Auckland Council has given landowner approval to extend the Rosedale Park restoration site in 2024 – and to use chickens for land clearance and inground composting.
Te Hōnonga a Iwi Restoring Rosedale Park project co-ordinator Nicky Shave says the restoration will cross the stormwater tributary at the bottom of the 2022-23 planted area to a steep 2000-square-metre site on the hill opposite the existing site.
“This means we now have approval for a total restoration area of 10,000 square metres. The expanded area is on land that’s steeper than we have worked on before. It has a triangle of impenetrable, invasive trees and weeds that will require machine clearing and mulching.”
But about 70 per cent of the new area is covered in low level weeds and pest plants, mainly Kikuyu grass and nasturtium plants.
The project team plans to build a temporary locked chicken enclosure and employ 20 chickens to clear that land in the four months ahead of next winter’s planting season.
Chickens are excellent at land clearance as they eat the roots out of pest plants, Nicky says. Then chicken droppings serve as natural compost, enriching the soil in preparation for planting.
“Chickens are very hard workers.”
The enclosure will also house a beehive to increase pollination on the restoration site. Eggs from the chickens will go to Wairau Valley Special School for cooking classes.
Once the chickens have done their job for the 2024 planting season, they will be cared for by the team at Untangled Landscapes in their Redvale yard until they are needed in 2025, when the chicken enclosure will be rebuilt on a different part of the site.
Regeneration expert Matt Cummings from Untangled Landscapes says it’s very exciting to have the chickens approved for use next year. “I’m looking forward to bringing flightless birds back to the park.”
Nicky believes this is the first time that chickens have been used for land clearance and inground composting at a restoration on public land. “Trialling the use of chickens instead of machines to clear part of the land will reduce our use of fossil fuels, cutting back carbon emissions.”
Working bees will start early next year to build the chicken enclosure and get the site ready for clearing. If you would like to sponsor materials for the chicken enclosure or a chicken, contact Nicky Shave on email@example.com