Tony Roxburgh, chair and trustee of the National Wetland Trust provided the AGM with a glimpse of happenings with wetlands in Waikato.
The Trust plans a state-of-the-art interpretation centre, with research and educational facilities, wetland gardens and heritage trails on land next to Lake Serpentine in the Waipa district. This is one of 69 peat lakes in Waikato.
Issues to be worked through include highway access and formal agreement with the Department of Conservation. DoC has already given approval to construct a 1.4 km predator fence around 10ha of the reserve at Lake Serpentine near Ohaupo.
Tony said the plan includes a visitor concept plan, an interpretation plan, business plan and landscape developed for the site. These were funded by grants from Transpower, Trust Waikato and Waikato Regional Council (Environmental Initiatives Fund), and supported by Waipa District Council.
They are looking at the best way to restore wildlife, including the feasibility of a predator exclusion fence. Funding from the Waikato Catchment Ecological Enhancement Trust, and a grant from the DoC’s Community Conservation Fund allowed them to produce a re-vegetation plan to restore vegetation and habitat.
Students of Te Awamutu School have been searching for native and exotic fauna, and have been the first to confirm long-tailed bats at the site. Other species confirmed include Australasian bittern, North Island fernbird, Black mudfish and Spotless crake.
The pest fence was completed in June this year and they now need sponsors and donations to help with pest eradication and re-introduction of native species.
Other work in the Waipa district includes Lake Ngaroto one of the peat lakes. It currently floods the peat and Tony said this could be one of the larger projects for the Waikato basin aimed at reducing loss of wetland and preserving the quality of the peat lakes.