Boggy Pond, Matthews lagoon, Wairio Wetlands, JK Donald Reserve and Barton’s Lagoon. These areas in the east and north of Lake Wairarapa are regarded as the best examples of native wetlands left at Wairarapa Moana.
All are on public conservation land and have infestations of pet plants to some degree – alder, willow, hornwort, tall fescue, aquatic weeds, and more. The pest plants have changed the natural character of the wetlands and made it difficult for some native plants and animals to thrive and also made it difficult for the wetlands to act as sediment and nutrient filters. Some money and time will be spent dealing with the pest plants in these areas and planting to enhance the native ecology already there.
The Wairarapa Moana Wetlands Project began in 2008 to enhance the native ecology, recreation and cultural opportunities on the public land in the area. Project partners are Greater Wellington Regional Council, Department of Conservation, Dairy NZ, and of course Ducks Unlimited.
Threats to native biodiversity include:
Aquatic weeds: - hornwort, largarosiphon, elodea, curled pond weed. These plants clog waterway and irrigation equipment and crowd out native species.
Invasive trees: alder, willow. Both fast growing and water tolerant they invade wetlands and lake edges and can dominate an entire ecosystem.
Invasive grasses: tall fescue, Mercer grass. Both introduced and out-compete native grasses and form an impenetrable barrier for native species the might try to establish.
Introduced mammals: Rabbits, hares, possums, stoats, ferrets, feral cats, rats. They eat pasture, native plants and/or native animals.
Introduced fish: Perch, tench, rudd, goldfish. Some of these eat our native fish, other outcompete them for food, while others eat plants and create more sediment in the water.
Poor water quality: Nutrients, effluent, waste water. Many native species will not tolerate nitrified water.
The clean-up work around the edge wetlands is just one part of the wider Wairarapa Moana Wetland Project. The prime focus is the publically owned land within the Wairarapa Moana catchment. The group is committed to working with the adjacent farmers and the users of the Moana.
Each year a management team has been completing tasks within areas of recreation, marketing, relationships and biodiversity investigations and enhancement.
Photos: Ross Cottle.