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High-tech drone to gather environmental information on Hamilton's gully systems

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A high-tech drone will take to the air above Hamilton next week, playing its part in a environmental strategy that will lay out how the city’s degraded gully systems could be restored.

As part of the Hamilton section of the Waikato Expressway, the NZ Transport Agency is working on a Gully Restoration Strategy for the Mangaonua, Mangaharakeke and Mangaone gully systems between Tamahere and Hillcrest.

The strategy will identify areas for potential restoration, offer up solutions such as how to eradicate invasive weed species, and identify possible funding sources for the work.

Much of the gullies are not accessible by foot because of dense undergrowth so from March 21 to March 24 a drone will be used to collect information on the topography and type of vegetation in the gullies.

Transport Agency Waikato highway manager, Kaye Clark says projects like the expressway provide an opportunity to enhance the natural and physical environment alongside our roads.

“Achieving sound social and environmental outcomes is a big part of the Transport Agency’s business,” Mrs Clark says.

“When we started investigating  the Hamilton section we saw that the gully systems are in an extremely poor state, full of invasive plants and weeds that are destroying the natural ecosystem.

“The survey work we will be carrying out will inform what environmental works need to be carried out within the Hamilton section of the expressway’s footprint but the information will also be useful for other areas.

“Once we have the information we plan on creating a Gully Restoration Strategy which groups such as landowners, iwi or councils can access to use in any future restoration work, if they wish to do so,” Mrs Clark says.

The Gully Restoration Strategy will: 

  • Identify areas for potential restoration and objectives for those areas
  • Make high level suggestions on how to undertake restoration works including suitable plants and weed management strategies
  • Identify potential funding sources groups may be able to tap into to complete any restoration work
  • Identify the likely costs of restoration work.

The strategy will be completed as part of the Hamilton section project and will be available to councils, iwi, and other groups for free through the Transport Agency.

A picture of a Transport Agency contractor using a drone can be found here(external link)
(external link)

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