To restore Mahoe Reserve to a healthy indigenous ecosystem, highly valued by the community.

About Mahoe Reserve


The project started in 2002 by year 9 students at Lincoln High School.  In 2003, planting began and since then, dedicated community members, including schools, kindergartens and other local groups have planted more than 7000 native trees, shrubs and grasses.  The Reserve is managed by the Mahoe Management Committee which has members from the local community and is overseen by the Lincoln Envirotown Trust.  The committee administers the funding provided by the Selwyn District Council which goes towards the upkeep of the Reserve, raises money for plants, and organises monthly working bees for planting, weeding and mulching.  We have Lincoln University and Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research ecologists as advisors.  We have many volunteers from the local community as well as Lincoln University and Lincoln High School students.  We also have a number of volunteers who come from overseas and help us while they are in New Zealand.

Monthly working bees held on the first Sunday of every month from 2pm.




  • To provide young people with an outdoor classroom and an opportunity to participate in a community project that develops attitudes and values towards conservation of the natural environment.
  • To encourage local schools to undertake various ecological and environmental projects as part of their school curriculum.
  • To provide an opportunity for the general public to learn about and enjoy the original natural environment of Lincoln.

The Reserve has nearly completed its main planting programme with a focus on eco-sourced native plant species that provide suitable habitat for birds, lizards and insects. As the plants grow, the native plants will provide animal species with food and shelter, contributing to a functioning ecosystem.

To ‘kick start’ this habitat we’ve creating artificial refuges to support and encourage colonisation of the reserve. Wooden discs, weta motels, and lizard lodges will be placed throughout the reserve to provide safe refuges from predators, to encourage population colonisation and to increase biodiversity.

An area of interest and future research will consider the small things that matter, the invertebrates. Although invertebrates make up the greatest biodiversity on earth (>95%), they are often the forgotten fauna despite their key ecological roles in the ecosystem (e.g. nutrient cycling, aeration of the soil, seed dispersal, pollination, etc.). People rarely observe their diversity and beauty because many invertebrates are small or there is insufficient local habitat to support them.

Although the Mahoe Reserve is being restored with native plant species, it is important to recognise the contribution of some introduced species in the area. These have provided both shelter for native seedlings and a food source for visiting nectar feeders such as bellbirds. The introduced exotic trees will be gradually removed from the Reserve as the native plants become more established.

Since human settlement, the introduction of mammalian predators to New Zealand has seen many native species become extinct. Cats, mustelids (stoats, weasels and ferrets), rodents, possums and hedgehogs are well established throughout the Canterbury plains, including Lincoln Township. These species eat eggs, young and adult birds as well as invertebrate and lizards.

For native species to re-colonise and survive in restored areas such as Mahoe Reserve, we must provide protection from these predators. Tracking tunnels (below) can be used to monitor the presence of predators within the reserve. These have an ink pad in the middle and blank cardboard at each end. They are baited with peanut butter to attract the predators, which walk across the ink and leave their prints behind.






Tracking tunnel and ink pad used to monitor and examples of prints found (right)


If evidence suggests that there is a risk to the native flora or fauna, then appropriate methods will be used to reduce predator populations to a low or undetectable level. Small traps that exclude other animals would be used for mice, rats and stoats. Hedgehogs and possums can be caught in live capture traps and moved to another location away from the Reserve.

Cats are known to eat insects, lizards, and birds, and in urban environments such as Lincoln Township, domestic cats may prey on fauna within the reserve. However, as we know, cats also eat rats and mice, so having them in the neighbourhood may assist us in our pest control efforts. Cat owners need not be concerned as NO TRAPS will be used that target cats.

Following research on what predator species were found in the reserve by a Year 10 class which showed that hedgehogs were a major predator of skinks there has been an area set up as a skink sanctuary with a hedgehog proof fence.

Due to its proximity to Lincoln Township and schools, NO ANIMAL POISONS will be used inside Mahoe Reserve.

Lincoln Township and the Selwyn District were once covered in native scrub, wetlands and forest vegetation including cabbage trees, tutu, and toe toe, flax, raupo, kahikatea, matai, and totara, ake ake, and various sedges. The shingle at Mahoe Reserve dates back a thousand years when the Waimakariri River flowed through Lincoln. All changed around 700 years ago as fires destroyed the vegetation, followed by agricultural practices and permanent settlements 150 years ago. This brought felling of native trees and the drainage of natural wetlands.

Over the last few hundred years, a significant ecological disturbance occurred causing unprecedented losses of native biodiversity as a consequence of habitat degradation. This habitat loss for invertebrates, birds and lizards has resulted in local, or in some cases, complete extinction of species.


Did you know…

  • Selwyn District once had moa, kiwi, tuatara and bats inhabiting our landscape.
  • Within the last one hundred years ten bird species have been lost from this region.
  • In recent times tui have disappeared from Banks Peninsula and lowland Selwyn, and kereru are now rarely observed in Selwyn district.
  • Some lizard and invertebrate species are locally extinct due to habitat destruction (e.g. jewelled gecko, spotted skink, Canterbury knobbled weevil, six-eyed spider).

Several ecological restoration projects in the Selwyn District are attempting to return the land back to its natural state. Collectively, these projects work towards the vision of the Te Ara Käkäriki Greenway Canterbury to build a corridor of native vegetation from the mountains to the sea through the Selwyn District. This will provide avenues for dispersal for birds, lizards and invertebrates. The Mahoe Reserve, a community driven ecological restoration project at Lincoln, aims to provide native habitat and food source for native fauna.

Students at Lincoln High School were looking for a location to extend their restoration work, and this is where the Mahoe Reserve began. Thanks to the support of students, teachers and the community for help at planting days and financial assistance, the Reserve has taken shape. The support of the Selwyn District Council and other business sponsors is greatly appreciated.

From this community participation in the reserve, a wider vision was born. Lincoln High School became an enviro school and Sue Jarvis, recipient of the Sir Peter Blake Environmental Educators’ award, and Ian Spellerberg, from Lincoln University, initiated the idea of an ‘enviro town’ and the Lincoln Envirotown Trust was established in 2006. The trust is made up of members of the community including Lincoln High School students.

The Mahoe Reserve was named by the Lincoln High School students after a small tree that would have grown under the larger canopy trees of the lowland forest. The information gathered from burnt logs buried in the shingle and pollen analysis has provided a picture of what plants were present before the arrival of humans to New Zealand. The pit itself was formed from the extraction of shingle used for roads and railway projects. It was also used as an illegal refuse site and was leased by the Lincoln Golf Club for a possible extension.

Location of Mahoe Reserve, Lincoln



There are regular working bee’s at the Mahoe Reserve on the first Sunday of every month starting at 2pm.

Images of Mahoe Reserve

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