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Over there . . . Luxmore Dairies owner Gerard Vallely points out an area beingworked on for the wetland project on his farm.

A 9ha section of farmland near Waipahi is being returned to its natural state after 70 years.

Five hectares of Luxmore Dairies will once again become wetland while the other 4ha will become a wetland fringe-bush reserve.

Project manager Shane Bocock said volunteers were keen to be out working during last Friday’s planting day.

“The owners want to create a conservation area,” Mr Bocock said.

“We’re diverting a tributary of the Waipahi River.”

The two-year project was halfway through, he said.

“We started planting six months ago.

“Wetland plants do a huge job for the environment.”

This included bringing biodiversity to the area.

The plants also filtered sediments and used nitrates and phosphates in the water.

With UV exposure, the wetlands also reduced E.coli levels.

This was the first volunteer planting day they had held.

“This is a significant day for the project. ”

Friday’s volunteers were from co-operative dairy company Fonterra and Pomahaka Water Care Group.

They would also come from other places in future including the University of Otago and the Otago Regional Council.

Up to 20,000 plants would be planted by the end of the project. These include toi toi, flax and cabbage trees.

They were planting now so that the plants would be established by the time the creek was blocked off in summer, he said.

“It’s a big step.

“I’m rapt.”

The total budget for the project was about $145,000.

It would be a good way for people, especially schoolchildren, to learn about the environment.

When it was finished, people would be able to come in and and walk around the boardwalk that would be installed, he said.

Farm owner Gerard Vallely said the day had gone well.

“The volunteers are fantastic,” Mr Vallely said.

Volunteer Nicole Cousins said she was enjoying the day.

The work was keeping her warm despite frosty conditions.

“It’s been a good temperature,” Ms Cousins said.