Portobello Kids at Craigieburn

Portobello school at the Byre

The Society hosted the year 5&6 classes from Portobello School at Craigieburn today. The group walked through Ross Creek and up to Craigieburn as part of their school camp. While they were there they cleared part of the stone floor from the old barn/roadway on the main track. During their excavations nothing of any significance was found, but there was enough anticipation to keep everyone busy. Thankfully the weather cleared for Portobello School to enjoy their lunch at the byre site before making the trek through Ross Creek.

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Walking for Conservation Week

 

Walkers

The Society hosted around 25 walkers, a few dogs and some visiting neighbours for the guided walk round Craigieburn today. The walk was part of the 2016 Conservation Week events in the city and nationwide. Once the low mist around Otago Harbour lifted the day was bright and fine and Craigieburn shone as it always does. There was an opportunity for the walkers to see and hear about the history of the colonial farm and the efforts of the Rankin, Tanner and Sherriff families to preserve the great rimu forest on the property. It was also an opportunity for the Society to show its vision and commitment to the heritage and conservation values of the area. After a good walk and a cup of tea the group were put to work planting some trees to celebrate Conservation Week 2016. Well done.

Climbing to the Top at Craigieburn

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Students and tutors from the Otago Polytechnic Arboriculture course spent three days at Craigieburn undertaking some essential work on the reserve’s trees. The students removed deadwood and damaged branches from the large macrocarpa shelter belt in the main paddock. The programme is the second year of three-year partnership between the Otago Polytechnic and the Craigieburn Committee where the site is used for training purposes. Craigieburn Project Manager Paul Pope asked the students to put their climbing skills to the test and inspect some of the rimu canopies while he bravely gave words of encouragement from the forest floor. The trees range in age with the oldest being around 550 years old and the students inspected the trees for wind damage, disease and rot. Around 16 of the 52 rimu were climbed and in general all were in good condition. So we may get at least another 300-350 years from these wonderful trees. Otago Polytechnic Arboriculture tutor Matt Miller said that getting the chance to climb such old native trees in an urban context was a rare and an important opportunity for the students to experience. It was a real pleasure to have the students utilise their skills at Craigieburn and we look forward to having them back next year. Click on the pictures below for viewer.

Ross Creek Clearance Update

Members of the Dunedin Amenities Society met with Council staff and its engineering consultants this morning to review the recent bush clearance below the dam face. The clearance of any native bush area is always something that should be mourned, but the nature of the dam and its purpose has meant that it is unavoidable. Today’s inspection showed that the City Council have reduced the bush clearance from the original 5000 square metres by nearly a half and that is a very satisfactory outcome. The plan now is for the City Council to survey the site and complete their design plans for the dam strengthening so that work can begin in October. The Society raised a number of issues regarding the habitat and recreational restoration once the work was completed. Particular concerns are the opening up of the existing canopy and effects on the remaining bush edges from increased light levels now that clearance is completed. This has relevance in regards to the invasion of the area by undesirable weed species. Other issues that will come out of the next design phase will be the repositioning of the former recreational tracks. While the City Council has much to do in planning the restoration of the site, the Society can at least see a clear coherent process at work, and that provides some reassurance. Click on the photograph’s to view gallery.

Ross Creek Dam Update

Copy of bushThe Dunedin City Council will be clearing approximately 5000 square metres of native bush on the eastern and western portions of the current earth dam. The Society have raised a number of concerns over this project in relation to the environmental and recreational compensation that Council should provide in lieu of the clearance work. It’s clear that the City Council have an infrastructural need to upgrade the dam for safety and to bring the Ross Creek site up to standard for future water production. There is however a need to ensure that the area is respected as part of Dunedin’s premier recreational and conservation network and that the public see a high degree of diligence, planning and environmental sensitivity fitting to an area of such importance. The Society have specifically raised issues around;

  • The protection and retention of the bush areas around the western ridge of the dam.
  • The positioning of the proposed haul road to deliver earth fill for the proposed strengthening.
  • The transplantation of plant material for restoration in other suitable areas.
  • The re-use of fallen log and litter material for restoration and the creation of invertebrate habitat sites within the region.
  • A trade-off arrangement for restoration planting in areas of Ross creek to compensate the community and biodiversity for the loss of the native bush.
  • The site should be photographed and recorded before, during and after the operation so that structural and vegetation change in the Ross Creek area is recorded for the historical record.
  • The removal of the significant wilding pines from the eastern side of the reservoir.
  • The reinstatement of all recreational tracks to continue traditional access.
  • Replanting of the dam face in shallow rooted species that are appropriate in the wider conservation and landscape context to create biological and landscape connectivity.

The Society have been in communication with staff of the Dunedin City Council and will continue to do so as this project is progressed. A further meeting will be held this week as an opportunity to push the Society’s concerns and thoughts to promote the best environmental and recreational outcome for the community.

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Planting the Seed at Craigieburn

Students from the Otago Polytechnic Horticulture course continued a 18 year relationship with the Dunedin Amenities Society with further tree planting at Craigieburn recently. The students planted further native plants on the Tanner Road frontage to add a visual link to the adjoining Ross Creek area and improve the entrance to the site from the road. They will return to the reserve on the 14th of September for further planting work to strengthen the southern bush boundary. With a stiff easterly breeze the group worked well in an effort to keep warm, and took the time to look at the historic and forest values of Craigieburn which makes the reserve unique.

Otago Polytechnic Horticulture students began planting native trees in the 1.5 acre grassy open paddock on the western boundary of Craigieburn in 1994, and after 9 years of hard work the paddock planting was completed. The totara, rimu, miro and matai have shown phenomenal growth and through the students work a new piece of sustaining native forest cover has been created. During the last 8 years other parts of Craigieburn have also been replanted with each new course group contributing to the success of the reserve re-planting. Otago Polytechnic Course Co-ordinator Lisa Burton and Craigieburn Project Manager Paul Pope were able to show the current students the positive impact that the preceding students had on the reserve over the last 18 years.

The Amenities Society takes great enjoyment in hosting the students and staff at Craigieburn, as their enthusiasm and energy is uplifting and inspiring. The project also serves an important purpose in the preparation of the students towards their horticultural qualifications which will hopefully inspire them in their own projects, future studies and employment in the horticulture industry. On behalf of the Dunedin Amenities Society our thanks for your efforts to make our site a great success.

Anthropology Society Visit Craigieburn

The Otago University Anthropology Society undertook a working field trip to Craigieburn on Saturday, the 11th of August. The Anthropology Society is a Otago University student club that gives members interested in all things anthropological to participate in field trips, training, discussion and networking with other interested members. The field trip to Craigieburn gave the club an opportunity to undertake field studies including sketching and measurement of the byre and Mrs Sherriff’s house site on Tanner Road. Craigieburn is an ideal site for the Club because of its easy proximity and the documented material already available from previous research initiated by the Amenities Society. Craigieburn is governed by a deed of trust that requires the reserve to be utilised for educational purposes and the encouragement of that aspect of the deed is an important facet in the management of the reserve. The Amenities Society are always pleased to have Craigieburn utilised for educational and learning opportunities in a variety of fields, and the Anthropology Society were most welcome.