Wanaka Sun       

Guardians bring lagoon back to life

Posted at 6:16am Thursday 15 Nov, 2018 | By Allison McLean journalist@thewanakasun.co.nz

A rare and once-dried-up Upper Clutha wetland has landed a group of guardian angels. A team in Albert Town formed Guardians of the Albert Town Lagoon (GOAL) with a mission to protect and be the keepers of the lagoon reserve to help preserve it for community enjoyment.

In an interview with the Albert Town Community Association (ATCA) Newsletter, ATCA chair Jim Cowie said many people had been unaware of the lagoon's existence since it was inaccessible and overrun with invasive trees and plants.
“The [Queenstown Lakes District] Council instigated a Preliminary Restoration and Enhancement Plan in 2007, in which the lagoon was described as ‘a hidden gem in the heart of Albert Town.' Land at the south end was bought by Council to enable easier access to the area. The cost of the enhancement was underestimated and the money dried up and interest was lost. Thus a group of passionate people, who were interested in the wildlife and the enhancement of the lagoon, was formed,” said Cowie.
After Council cleared the waterways, wildlife is reported to have returned with 11 species of birdlife on the lagoon as well as bullfrogs. It is currently classified as a recreation reserve.
GOAL works closely with QLDC Parks and Reserves and has achieved several milestones such as installing a pathway from the Alison Avenue entrance to Lagoon Avenue, testing and monitoring water quality  to ensure acceptable levels and planting 400 native vegetation per year. Cowie said the next phase will include a plan to install an irrigation system from Alison Avenue entrance to the community orchard.
“We are encouraged by the numbers of young people who come to our planting days. They are our hope for the preservation of this very special place in our community. Most important of all is that the community play an active role in the restoration and enhancement of the lagoon reserve,” said Cowie.

Te Kākano Aotearoa Trust has taken an active participation with GOAL's projects through organising and providing plantings to “restore the wetland to a more indigenous state, reintroducing species lost to the area where possible and providing a habitat for wetland wildlife.”

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