Shorebirds breeding on braided rivers require clear shingle on which to nest. Over recent years the incidence of woody weeds has increased significantly on the Ashley-Rakahuri (AR) river. It is estimated that the area of clear shingle in the core bird breeding stretch of the river (21km between the Okuku river junction and the SH1 bridge) dropped from around 200 ha in 2014 to about 30 ha by January 2017. Subsequent major floods in 2017 increased this area to around 250ha, but maintenance of cleared areas will forever be a major challenge. To this end, a pilot trial using a bulldozer and rippers was carried out in July 2018. Its aim was to simulate a riverbed ripping technique which has been used for maintaining open bird breeding habitat within braided rivers in Hawkes Bay. Last year (2019) a customised ripper mounted behind a farm tractor was used. Reports on both the 2018 and 2019 work were written for ECan and DOC.
This report covers continued weed removal using the tractor-mounted machine in July, 2020. ARRG is most grateful for this weed clearance work being funded by ECan.