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Nelson’s untouched treasure

Kelly’s Bush is an incredibly special area of untouched native bush in Nelson. Owned by the Kelly family, the area has been opened up to the public and aided to grow and thrive with help from Trees That Count and the Department of Conservation.

Kelly’s Bush in Nelson is one of the few pieces of undisturbed native bush within city boundaries that dates from pre-European times. Fittingly, it’s been designated an Area of Special Significance by the Ministry for the Environment, and a recent assessment of the bush gave it a ‘High Rarity’ score.

For the past 34 years, Lindy Kelly and her family have worked alongside the community groups to clear the weeds and replant areas around the original native bush, effectively doubling its size.

The team have put trails, steps and bridges through the bush which now boasts well over 1000 visitors a year. They also have built a shade house where they propagate and grow their own native trees for replanting, which local schools help out with.

At the team’s last count, there were over 70 different species of native tree growing, including some very rare species alongside native ferns, orchids and fungi.

Native birds love the bush, and its tawa berries are a main food source for kerurū in Nelson, which are once again being seen in large flocks. Endangered parea ducks breed in the bush, and at least three species of gecko (including the rare Nelson green gecko) call the bush home alongside giant native snails.

Native fish like kokopu, inanga, koura and eels also live in the stream which runs through the gully.

This planting season, the project saw 5,000more native trees put in the ground thanks to Trees That Count matching them with funding from the Department of Conservation.

Going forward, the Kelly family are planning to retire and replant another 7 ha of pasture, most of which adjoins the present bush area. This will not only help prevent erosion, but it will increase the size of the bush area for community education and recreation.

About the author

Trees That Count aims to create a national movement to plant millions of native trees to mitigate climate change. We're managed by the Project Crimson Trust in partnership with the Tindall Foundation.

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