Mapping restoration plantings in Selwyn: the stepping stones of a wildlife corridor

Canterbury plains currently has less than 1% of the original native vegetation due to human settlement and farming. Selwyn as one of Canterbury’s districts has experienced an increase in intensified farming in the last 20 years. The changes in farming practices has increased the loss of vegetation, with changes in water use and quality. Through the use of native vegetation as shelter belts, riparian and corner plantings they have become part of the stepping stones concept. Farm plantings are part of the answer, other plantings such as road margins, river banks, public parks and private (non-farming) gardens also provide biodiversity support. The range of plantings provide recreational and learning areas for schools and the public. These areas include parks, schools through supplementing remaining native areas, and along waterways enhancing streams and rivers in riparian plantings. The concept of using stepping stones for increased biodiversity interaction is increasing in restoration circles. Stepping stones are areas of native plantings to increase native biodiversity. Through the use of these stepping stones insects, lizards, and birds are able to increase their ranges to find habitat, food, pollination and increase their future populations’ genetic diversity. The Selwyn Waihora Active Restoration Forum (SWARF) mapped known restoration sites in 2013 for use as stepping stones. This map has not had sites added to it since 2013. Due to the lack of follow up members of SWARF decided that the way the map was created, information on it, the level of accessibility to the general public, new viewpoints and interaction with the map needed to be considered for ongoing use. This follow up was turned into a Summer Scholarship project at Lincoln University. This report will discuss the background of the Stepping Stone concept and how it applies to the Selwyn district and Canterbury, what information is currently available on the SWARF map, how different groups would like to use the map, suggest alternative places the map could be hosted, what information could be available for the public, compare whether similar mapping or information is available through other regional councils and create a map for future use.