Flight magazine has a copy of The Forest for the Trees, a book by Wayne Bennett, of Forest Flora, to give away.
Wayne says his book explains the benefit of observing natural areas carefully and using this knowledge as a template for restoring forests and wetlands.
He is the co-ordinator for Ecosourced Waikato, a project manager for Waikato Rivercare and is on the committee of Ngaruawahia Action Group.
“Our native plants vary across the country and there is value in retaining this natural diversity.
“If we are to ensure we only plant species that cope well with the conditions and want to minimise weed incursions, we can learn so much from observing what remnants we have left of natural areas,” Wayne says.
“I may be known to some DU members through the taxidermy work I did through the 1980s, 90s and 2000s. I have been restoring forests and wetlands for nearly 40 years and learn best from my mistakes. The book does not gloss over mistakes but takes lessons from them.”
He says there are many books on the identification of native plants but few describing how they grow, what they tolerate and what they are vulnerable to.
“These are things that usually only experience can tell but there is a section discussing the ecology of all of the plants mentioned elsewhere in the book, both native plants and weeds.
“There are many native plants, not well known, that contribute to the welfare of waterfowl. This book is intended to help provide that knowledge.”
Project Taranaki Mounga, a ten year $24 million project involving pest eradication and reintroduction of species over the 34,000ha of Egmont National Park was last December given the green light with a funding commitment by the NEXT Foundation.
Local philanthropic organisation the NEXT Foundation announced it would invest up to $15 million in the restoration of Taranaki’s native ecology. The Foundation has committed to funding Project Taranaki Mounga, a 10 year project involving pest eradication and reintroduction of species in Egmont National Park.
The venture between the NEXT, DOC, iwi, and the Taranaki community will begin with pest and weed control and the ecological restoration of Egmont National Park and a small number of volcanic peaks and offshore islands. NEXT and DOC have committed to funding the first phase of 18 months with strong interest from other parties. DOC has committed just over $1.6 million for the first phase.
Work will start on phase one this February and during the 18 months the project intends to:
DOC Director General Lou Sanson said he was thrilled Project Taranaki Mounga has been given a green light with the commitment of funding from the NEXT Foundation.
“Project Taranaki Mounga has been recognised as one of the next big exciting and bold conservation ventures,” said Lou Sanson.
The project’s vision is to protect our mountain for our wellbeing – Ko Taranaki tooku whakaruruhau.
“Given the strong Iwi connection and Whakapapa to Taranaki Mounga, Iwi are a critical partner in the successful delivery of this project.
Lou said the project will create a legacy of cultural, environmental and economic benefits for generations to come.
“Healthy flourishing ecosystems will sustain the quality and abundance of freshwater underpinning the Taranaki economy which adds to New Zealand’s image, and showcases this country’s leadership in pest eradication.
“It’s exciting knowing lessons learnt in Taranaki will be able to be transferred to even larger landscapes when successful,” said Lou.
Restoration Day at Wario May 21, proved to be a success with helpers like Ross Cottle, Ian Gunn, and Tapuwa Marapara, who were able to share their expertise with those who attended.
Adding to the success was the wide diversity of people present, both as presenters and as participants. There were 30 on the bus all up and the combination of talks on the bus and pauses during the field trips gave plenty of time for the story to unfold and for people to ask questions.
The weather played its part too!
It’s all science: Two PhD students, Eve Sutter (wearing hat) and Elisa Piispa, from Victoria University School of Chemistry and Physical Sciences, using an array of electrodes to measure below-ground resistivity at various depths. The technique can be used to estimate the profile of the water table along a transect without the need to dig multiple bore holes.
(Stephen was the organiser).
A cheque for $6500 from the Nikau Foundation was handed over to Ducks Unlimited (DUNZ) President Ross Cottle and Patron Jim Campbell by Gus van de Roer of the Nikau Foundation to go towards the restoration of the Wairio Wetland.
Nikau Foundation Chairman Kevin O’Connor said he was delighted the Foundation was able to support Ducks Unlimited with its restoration work at the Wairio Wetland on the eastern shore of Lake Wairarapa.
While most grants had previously gone to Wellington based organisations he added that the Wairarapa is part of the wider community supported by the Foundation.
Ross Cottle said the grant would go towards site preparation and tree planting at the joint venture project with DOC.
“We are starting to see the results of four years of effort and this injection of funds will help maintain the momentum of the project,” said Ross.
Tree planting is planned for May/June and volunteers are welcome. In past years children from Pirinoa Primary School, students from the Taratahi Agricultural Training Centre, Rotarians and DU and F&B members have assisted with the planting.
Nikau Foundation is the community foundation for the Wellington region, part of a worldwide family that provides a simple, effective and long-lasting way for people to leave a gift for causes close to their heart and close to home. Because the capital is invested and only the income is given out, the gift
keeps on giving forever.
The grant for the Wairio Wetland restoration project has been arranged by Nikau on behalf of the Richard and Doreen Evans Trust.
A busy day at Wairio:
There was a digger on site to raise the walking track.
The success of retaining water in the wetland has required this work. Also the need to clear a few culverts to allow the water to flow more easily from Stage 4 (in the slightly higher ground in the north of the wetland) to the Stage 3 area. Though there is still plenty of work in progress and the need to equalise the water level.
There is new walking track signage made by DOC. That will be a big help for those interested in exploring the area.
And lastly, Stephen Hartley from Victoria University (with helpers Maxine, Veronica and our own Ross Cottle) starting a drone flight to record vegetation and water levels, principally in the Stage 3 research area.
Harnessing wetlands as green infrastructure solutions to our water woes
For one weekend every July in Canada, the village of St. Pierre-Jolys hosts the National Frog Jumping Championship. It’s part of the annual Frog Follies Festival. The thriving Franco-Manitoban community is also proud of its parks, a new residential compost pickup service and the Trans-Canada Trail that runs along the nearby Rat River. It’s about as green as it gets here. And it’s about to get greener.
Seeing wastewater through a green lens
Standing on a grassy berm overlooking St. Pierre-Jolys’ current wastewater treatment lagoon, Janine Wiebe points to an adjacent muddy field.
“In a few months, this field will be full of heavy equipment,” she says, smiling. The village’s chief administrative officer describes how their wastewater treatment system will expand to include a new tertiary treatment wetland.
Like all communities, St. Pierre-Jolys must anticipate the current and future needs of their wastewater treatment system. Future growth depends on it. Their system needs to remove pollutants, deliver clean water, handle increased volume and cope with the uncertain timing of storm water events.
Traditional, concrete treatment plants are expensive to build and maintain. St. PierreJolys found a better solution.
Staff from Native Plant Solutions (NPS) proposed the tertiary treatment wetland; a sustainable, cleaner, cost-effective and greener way to reduce nutrient levels in the village’s wastewater.
“In this system, a third cleansing cell – the wetland – is added to the primary and secondary treatment cells to reduce phosphorous levels,” says Glen Koblun, manager of NPS. NPS is a consulting branch of Ducks Unlimited Canada (DUC) and a leader in science-based treatment wetland systems.
“There’s lower maintenance and management costs to this system compared to chemical or mechanical treatment options,” adds Koblun.
The treatment wetland system takes advantage of the natural functions of wetland plants – a process called phytoremediation – that transforms common pollutants into harmless by-products or essential nutrients. This comes from the sheer amount of biological activity that occurs in a wetland system including sunlight, wind, water, air, plants and soils.
“This project fits our vision,” says Wiebe. “We are leaving a legacy that will make it easier for future generations. It allows room for expansion and will cost less in the long run.”
Green infrastructure: it’s only natural
Green infrastructure is a buzz word that’s infiltrating conversations about making communities more resilient to disasters like floods. DUC research scientist Pascal Badiou, PhD, believes green infrastructure is essential. Wetlands, he says, are one of the most powerful systems available to us.
Traditional built infrastructure such as dry dams or water treatment systems serve an important role but typically address only one issue and come with high maintenance costs,” says Badiou.
“Green infrastructure, which includes natural areas, vegetation and wetlands, captures and treats stormwater and runoff at its source. It’s building with nature instead of concrete.”
Communities from coast to coast are finding that nature has an effective and efficient way to deal with wastewater: wetlands. These cost-effective, natural powerhouses provide benefits and services that reduce the need for costly built (grey) infrastructure such as dams, water diversions, water treatment plants and engineered carbon sinks. Green infrastructure like wetlands can also reduce pressure on and extend the life of grey infrastructure. ©DUC
Wetlands hold rainwater, snowmelt and floodwaters. They filter pollutants, store carbon, replenish groundwater, reduce erosion and provide habitat for wildlife as well as places for people to enjoy the outdoors.
“Other types of flood control are not able to deliver the additional benefits that wetlands provide,” says Badiou, who has conducted extensive research across the Prairies about the role of wetland drainage on water quality and quantity.
Seeing the green light through restoration
Getting people and governments to appreciate green infrastructure can be difficult. In Alberta, it took the devastating floods of June 2013 for the provincial government to reach a watershed moment. Southern Alberta was inundated. Downtown Calgary shut down. These events cost millions of dollars in damage.
The government responded with a number of funding programmes to address a wide range of recovery activities, including the Watershed Resiliency and Restoration Programme (WRRP). As its name implies, the WRRP aims to improve watershed functions to build greater long-term resiliency to droughts and floods. Resiliency would be improved through restoration, conservation, education and stewardship.
Traditional mitigation projects involve largescale construction or engineered structures (“grey” infrastructure). Watershed restoration supported by WRRP focuses on natural solutions. This includes conserving and restoring wetlands.
Tracy Scott, DUC’s head of industry and government relations in Alberta, and other DUC staff presented a business case for the use of wetland restoration for flood mitigation in southern Alberta. Their efforts helped inform the government’s development and implementation of the WRRP.
“The expansion of the WRRP programme to include natural green infrastructure was an excellent example of how we helped the Government of Alberta align wetland conservation with provincial and societal priorities, including Alberta’s Wetland Policy,” says Scott. “Few people recognise that the new Alberta Wetland Policy represents an important implementation tool to support Alberta’s flood, drought, water quality and biodiversity management goals.”
During the first round of the programme’s implementation in 2014, DUC has received $11.6 million to fund restoration of 1,380 acres (558 hectares) of wetlands in flood- and drought-prone areas in the southern part of the province
“A significant proportion of that money is going directly into the pockets of participating landowners, rewarding them for their contribution to ecosystem services, with the balance being used for the actual restoration work,” says Scott.
This puts the natural power of the landscape to work, instead of relying only on traditional engineered infrastructure,” says Scott. It’s a proactive approach that’s safeguarding the long-term future of water, wildlife and people across the province.
“The WRRP is the first chapter of DUC’s green infrastructure story in Alberta,” says Scott.
St. Pierre-Jolys CAO Janine Wiebe stands near the future site of the village’s tertiary treatment
wetland. The village consulted with DUC’s Native Plant Solutions on the project, will be an
additional treatment step to clean wastewater. This form of green infrastructure uses natural
wetland processes to clean the water before it enters the Rat River. ©Leigh Patterson
Pairing green with grey
As Alberta has learned, flood control is a key environmental benefit provided by wetlands. But little research exists specific to Ontario. The need to fill information gaps has escalated in recent years as the province has been hit with bigger storms and floods.
In 2016, DUC and several partners conducted research in the Credit River watershed, a densely-populated region vulnerable to extensive flooding. They used a hydrological model that quantified the consequences of wetland loss and gain on flooding under a variety of storm events.
This past fall, the results came in.
Not surprisingly, in modeling scenarios where researchers removed wetlands from the landscape, flooding was worse. When wetlands were restored the intensity of flooding diminished.
The research supports the idea that when combined with built infrastructure like storm water retention ponds, green infrastructure like wetlands can provide another layer of flood defence. Green infrastructure like wetlands can also reduce the pressure on and extend the life of grey infrastructure.
“The research identifies areas where wetland restoration will have the greatest impact on flood reduction,” says Mark Gloutney, PhD, DUC’s director of regional operations, eastern region. “DUC can work with municipalities, conservation authorities and others to better plan for extreme weather and flooding by helping build up their inventory of natural infrastructure assets, like wetlands.”
Building climate-resilient communities in Ontario will require strategic investments in wetland restoration, says Gloutney. DUC, he adds, “is prepared to come to the table.”
Coast to coast: more shades of green
Janine Wiebe is looking forward to the final implementation of her village’s green vision. They plan to add educational signage and trails around the new tertiary wetland site. They also want to invite environmental science students to conduct research there.
As they wait, cities like Moncton, N.B. are reaping the rewards of investing in green infrastructure.
By working with NPS staff, Moncton has integrated wetland-like naturalised storm water retention ponds into urban developments. These urban wetlands are able to store and filter vast amounts of water, which improve water quality as a result.
Elaine Aucoin, Moncton’s director of environmental planning and management found that these systems are functional, and add to the quality of life for residents. “Wetlands look a lot nicer, and provide the community with a place to gather around, unlike dry ponds that are often fenced off, and a waste of space,” says Aucoin.
In March, DUC president Jim Couch recognised the City of Moncton with a special “Ducks Unlimited Canada Order of Conservation” for its wetland conservation leadership.
Leading the green infrastructure revolution on the opposite side of the country is Gibsons on B.C.’s sunshine coast. The town gained national recognition when the Globe and Mail profiled it for declaring Nature its “most valuable infrastructure asset”. Their 2015 financial statements read: The Town is fortunate to have many natural assets that reduce the need for man-made infrastructure that would otherwise be required. This and filtration), creeks, ditches and wetlands (rain water management) and the foreshore area (natural seawall).
What gets measured gets managed. So important are these green infrastructure assets, the town made a pioneering decision to include them under the same asset management system as engineered infrastructure.
Walking over a footbridge spanning the springswollen Rat River, Wiebe says she understands why Gibsons values the potential of green infrastructure solutions that exist around us.
“Instead of working against nature, we should be working with it.”
Leigh Patterson is editor of Conservator
In 2008 Taumata Lagoon, south east of Carterton in the Wairarapa Region of New Zealand, was classified as “A WETLAND OF NATIONAL IMPORTANCE”.
The lagoon is also recognised as the country’s best example of an “Oxbow Lagoon” – with both ends of the lagoon being only 300-metres apart.
In addition, the inner area of the lagoon contains between 200 and 250 ancient Totara and Kahikatea. (Possibly the most significant area of ancient forest on the floor of the Wairarapa valley).
The 34-hectare lagoon environment is also the home of over 40 different species of birds – including good numbers of the rare and endangered endemic NZ Dabchick, large numbers of NZ Shoveler, Grey Teal and Black Swan (there are now close to no mallards!), plus bush birds, including: Falcon, Kereru, Tui, Bellbird and huge numbers of Fantail.
In addition 110 different species of endemic plants have been identified in the area.
A wetland of national importance and a classic oxbox lagoon, with close to half of the lagoon and its environs being protected by a QEII National Trust Open Space Covenant.
The lagoon is 9 kilometres south east of Carterton – a rural town in the Wairarapa region of New Zealand.
Sylvia and Neil Hayes purchased part of Taumata Lagoon in 1990 and since then considerable enhancement of the environment has taken place, and, with lots of dedicated assistance, a weir to regulate water levels was constructed, well over 5000 willows have been removed, over 8000 Totara, Kahikatea and swamp flax have been planted and several thousand predators have been eliminated; with management of the predator control programme being carried out by the Greater Wellington Regional Council since 2000. The Timms trap was originally designed as a Possum trap, but has proven to be highly successful in the elimination of – feral cats, ferrets, stoats and hedgehogs. The largest ferret ever eliminated in New Zealand was in a Timms trap – at Tamata Lagoon.
Historically the most desirable lagoon water levels have relied heavily on flood water from the adjacent Waiohine River, but in 2014 a Waiohine River stop bank burst its banks – the result being that flood water pours through the gap and heads straight to the Ruamahanga River – instead of the lagoon!
The Waiohine and the Ruamahanga rivers converge three kilometres to the south of Taumata Lagoon and each river floods 3 to 4 times each year.
The Regional Council informed the four owners of Taumata Lagoon that they had no funds available to rebuild the stopbank – and the owner of the stopbank property said he didn’t want the stopbank rebuilt!
At my instigation, on September 14, 2016, a meeting was held on site to discuss how best the problem could be resolved. Involved were GWRC staff, the four lagoon owners, the Wairarapa QEII National Trust representative and the landowner of the stopbank area. With full support of all involved the outcome of the meeting was to reverse the flow of water through the adjacent neighbours flood drainage channel (which normally puts flood water back into the Waiohine River), construct a culvert under the road, construct a channel on the Hayes property and join it up with the culvert.
In 1942, in the same area, there were large numbers of endemic Totara (Podocarpus totara) and the endemic Kahikatea (Dacrycarpus dacrydioides), but all but seven of the Totara were milled during the 1950s.
This aerial photo was taken in 1942.
The area just above the gravel road at the bottom of the photo is where Suez #2 was created and where our final planting programme was completed in August 2017.
Many of the Totara and Kahikatea in the main part of the natural forest were also milled at the same time, but approximately 100 Totara and 250 Kahikatea survived and many of these have a QEII National Trust Open Space Covenant over them, which protects them and all plantings since 1990 in perpetuity. Most of the Totara and Kahikatea are ancient – with massive trucks!
Close to 50 different species of birds have been identified in the lagoon area and over 100 endemic trees and plants have
The Hayes block of land where the “Suez #2” was created was leased to a neighbour for 10 years, but as soon as the lease expired Neil and Sylvia Hayes commenced another major native planting programme – initially with native swamp flax (for shelter belts) and then Totara.
Between 1990 and 2017 Neil and Sylvia have proven the ancient Greek proverb to be wrong: “THE WORLD GROWS BETTER WHEN OLD PEOPLE PLANT TREES KNOWING THAT THEY WILL NEVER SIT IN THEIR SHADE.”
All finished five days later – with grass seed spread throughout the flat ground. The flow of water from the neighbours drain was reversed – and instead of the water flowing back into the Waiohine River it now flows into Taumata Lagoon.
NZ Swamp Flax grows rapidly and provides an excellent wind break for other endemic plants and trees – and for the endemic Tui (Prosthemadera novaeseelandiae), Bellbird (Anthornis melanura) and the native Fantail (Rhipidura). The NZ Native flax provides an array of insects and nectar.
The first flow through the canal and into the lagoon was in April 2017.
A superb outcome to a complex wetland management problem.
Sincere thanks to the GWRCs Masterton Branch; the GWRC Head Office, all five landowners involved, particularly the adjacent neighbours – the Herrick Family – for their essential support with the use of their drain and the QEII National Trust for their support.
QSM CEnv DU (NZ) Foundation Member & DU (NZ)