The last few months since my appointment at the AGM in Napier, has gone quickly. Looking back we are making good progress on a number of fronts.
The 1200 metre low bund was constructed at Wairio to capture and hold extra water and it is performing exactly as it was designed. When I was on site there in October it was holding about 25 hectares of water with a maximum depth of 1.2 metres. Local DU members and volunteers had commenced planting along the bunds to provide cover for wildlife and protect the bund from wave lap erosion. Excellent habitat for a wide range of wetland birds including bittern, pied stilts, dabchick and waterfowl. Jim Law, Ross Cottle and team are now looking at replicating this for the block immediately to the south. This “think big” approach is certainly paying off.
I am also the DU nominee on the NZ Game Bird Habitat Trust which distributes about $100,000 each year to worthwhile wetland projects and $2 from each waterfowl hunter’s licence goes into a national fund for this purpose.
The Trust members met in November in Blenheim to inspect the Nelson – Malborough Fish and Game Para Wetland project located alongside SH1 between Picton and Blenheim. This large project has the same challenges as many wetlands: declining water levels and invading willows. There is a long term restoration plan in place currently being funded by the Trust at about $18,000 per year. The sight of large dead crack willows as you drive past looks like a grave yard but they are starting to win the battle. Native fish and wetland birds, including waterfowl are the beneficiaries.
On behalf of the Board, I hope you all had a very merry Xmas and will have a prosperous New Year. The AGM will be in the Wairarapa this year and planning is well underway to make this a success. Look forward to seeing you there.