Combining good farming practices with proactive steps to look after the wetlands on their beef and dairy farm, has earned Ducks Unlimited members in the Wairarapa, Jane Donald and her family, the title of “National Rural Wetland Champion 2014”.
To celebrate World Wetlands Day this year, the National Wetland Trust and the Department of Conservation (DOC) worked with regional councils to find New Zealand’s most wetlandfriendly farming families.
Wetlands are important to maintaining a healthy environment, playing a key role in water purification and flood control. Protecting wetlands and minimising the impact of farming benefits everyone.
Seven regional councils submitted nominations.
The judges - National Wetland Trust founder Gordon Stephenson, National Wetland Trust trustee Keith Thompson and Jan Simmons – were impressed with the wetlands conservation work being done by farmers throughout the
They named the Donald family as the National Rural Wetland Champion for 2014. The family has been farming alongside Lake Wairarapa, at
Big Haywards Lagoon, for more than 150 years.
The judges said: “This farm ticked just about all the boxes for environmental best practice.”
For several generations, since 1856, the Donald family has been working to protect and restore more than 300 hectares of nationally significant
wetlands, on the eastern side of Lake Wairarapa.
In their nomination the Greater Wellington Regional Council (GWRC) described Jane Donald, daughter Paula Gillett and their family - present and past - as role models for wetland restoration.
The GWRC praised the Donalds’ ability to marry their farming and conservation of their wetlands.
“Canny initiative and perseverance describe Jane and Paula’s approach to wetland development and protection. This land has a long association with farmers, hunters, conservationists, and local councils. The majority of the land farmed by the Tairoa partnership is protected by a QEII covenant with actively managed functioning wetlands.
Areas of remnant native forest have been and continue to be fenced off with a programme of weed and animal pest control in and around the wetlands. The farming operation is strategic, with the beef farming associated with the
wetlands and lakeshore and the dairying occurring inland separated from the wetland complexes. The farm and integrated wetlands provide a show case for not just protecting biodiversity and water quality but enhancing it in a most practical and innovative way by clever land managers using agricultural tools.”