project update
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Why are we doing this?
The 77 hectare Sanatorium Reserve lies within Rotorua city, on the margins of Lake Rotorua. In 1880 the land was gifted to the people of Rotorua by Ngati Whakaue as part of the Fenton Agreement.
The reserve is bounded by Lake Rotorua to the north, Te Ngae Road to the south, Puarenga Stream to the east, and the Polynesian Spa and EEC to the west. 
The DOC Sulphur Point Wildlife Sanctuary sits adjacent to the reserve. Sanatorium, Sulphur Point and the geothermal habitats on the eastern side of the Puarenga Stream comprise the fourth largest area of geothermal habitat in New Zealand and are considered to be nationally-significant.
This site provides a unique environmental restoration opportunity within the heart of a city.  Its ecological value includes bird populations, geothermal vegetation and features and landscape views. In addition to being a taonga for local residents, this area has the potential to become an amazing visitor destination through further land use planning and infrastructure installation.  It also provides a crucial link between the Lakefront and the Whakarewarewa Forest and includes a section of the Te Ara Ahi Cycleway. 
What is proposed?
The restoration project has two main stages.
1. Ecological restoration
An ecological management plan for the reserve has been developed by Rotorua-based Wildlands Consultants, to provide a guide to restoration of the site. 
The ecological restoration objectives are:
○  Vegetation at the site is returned to its unique geothermal composition, free of weeds.
○  Birds and other indigenous fauna thrive at the site, and pest animal numbers are low.
○  The site is safe for all users.
○  A unique visitor experience is provided through both the ecological restoration and other initiatives that enhance the visitor experience.
The plan is divided into management units, with priorities and timelines for restoration over five years. The main focus of this work is pest animal control, pest plant and tree removal (predominantly arrow bamboo) and ongoing ecological monitoring.
A Council project team has been set up, with Richard Dahlenburg as Project Manager. Wildlands have been contracted to deliver the first two years of the restoration work. Work in the reserve commenced in September 2018.
2. Infrastructure enhancement
The second stage of the project will include re-vegetation and strands round the re-purposing of land and buildings in the centre of the reserve; development of appropriate infrastructure such as viewing platforms; cultural/ecological interpretation; and collaboration to fit in with the upgrade of the wastewater treatment plant.  This stage will involve significant consultation and planning with iwi, conservation partners and reserve users.
Funding for the ecological restoration has been allocated in the Long-Term Plan. In addition, $80,000 has been secured from the Lotteries Environment Fund and Pub Charities for use in 2018-2020. Further funding is being sought to complete the ecological work.
Phase One is expected to cost $488,000.  The cost of Phase Two is still to be determined. 
What’s been done so far?
Weed control operations are going well with significant amounts of bamboo already cleared by Wildlands Consultants Limited.  The arrow bamboo is being removed by a remote-controlled mulcher but contractors first must go through the vegetation to check for people or nesting birds.  Wildlands will be revisiting and treating all clumps of bamboo later in the season to reduce grow back.
What's happening with rubbish clean ups? 
During Conservation Week at the end of September 2018, Sudima Hotel organised a clean-up of the reserve.  The event attracted more than 60 people and 360kgs of rubbish was collected in two hours.   Volunteers included children from Rotorua Primary School, students from Toi Ohomai and staff from Chris Smith Glass.  Throughout the restoration project Council will be looking to get the community involved and this may include more clean-up projects.
What’s next?
The weed removal will continue and is expected to take some time with large areas of bamboo to clear. Contractors will also be carrying out manual control of other weeds in the reserve. 
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