Ducks Unlimited
Saturday, 09 November 2019 09:42

Bittern steals the show

Ducks Unlimited recently received a substantial donation to put towards its restoration work at Wairio Wetland.

Janet and Patrick Velvin, who live in South Wairarapa, are passionate about conservation, particularly water conservation, and contacted The Gift Trust, a philanthropic advisory service, to identify suitable causes they could support.

Cheryl Spain, executive director of The Gift Trust, said they had been impressed with the research on Wairio and DU’s partnerships with the Department of Conservation, Greater Wellington Regional Council and Victoria University, particularly its links with the student research projects at Wairio, and had chosen Wairio as a suitable recipient.

The Velvins visited the wetland for the first time and took part in a planting day with Victoria Uni students in early July.

After helping with the planting, they were given a guided side-by-side tour by Ross Cottle, who identified a suitable site on a promontory for a viewing hide, which could be constructed with some of the funds donated by the Velvins.

During the tour, Patrick asked if there were bitterns in the wetland, and as if on cue, a bittern obliged and flew in front of the them.

Janet became aware of the work at Wairio Wetland through the book Wairarapa Moana: The Lake and its People.

Janet said after the tour they were impressed with Ducks Unlimited and happy to give a donation towards the work at Wairio.
 
 

 

Published in Issue 177
Monday, 21 October 2019 09:29

The evolution of Courtney’s Close

On a parcel of land at Mangaone in Raetihi, in an area that was once an unproductive, narrow, boggy drain bound by strong ridges, co-owners Graeme Berry and Paddy Chambers saw a potential habitat for waterfowl.

DU Patron Di Pritt says, “Since Graeme and Paddy Chambers have been involved at Mangaone, from 2004, they have created six major wetland areas – ranging from an acre to 10 acres – which are all fenced and they have planted about 38 acres. Another four major ponds have also been created.

“It is an amazing achievement, and was fully supported by the previous owner, Jon Preston.”

Their latest project is Courtney’s Close, a wetland area they named after the Horizons employee who helped with the project.

They created it by splitting a 300-acre paddock in half and building a 650-metre deer fence. The wetland area now consists of four ponds outside the fence, and three, with room for two more, enclosed by the fence.

This means animals have access to water but are excluded from the lower wetlands and impurities are filtered out along the way.

Inside the fences Graeme and his partner, Bang, have planted natives, protected from the deer.

Published in Issue 177
Sunday, 15 September 2019 06:21

Pekapeka wetland earns Pride of Place award

One of the areas to be visited during the AGM weekend.

Hawke’s Bay Regional Council was  delighted to receive a Distinction Award from the New Zealand Institute of  Landscape Architects at the NZILA Resene Pride of Place Landscape Architecture Awards for 2013 in April.

The citation for the award states that Pekapeka Wetland provides a range of  experience opportunities for users and  acknowledges the contributing work of Shannon Bray Landscape Architect.

Stephen Cave, HBRC’s Operation  Environmental Manager said “This is one of three awards for Pekapeka Wetland  since 2009, realising its champion value and raising the awareness of wetlands throughout Hawke’s Bay.

“The award from NZILA is a great  reflection on the restoration work  happening in Hawke’s Bay and we are  very honoured. It is estimated this award puts Pekapeka Wetland in the top five  percent of landscape architecture projects undertaken throughout New Zealand in  recent years.”

The award recognises Pekapeka Wetland as a high quality interpretive site for wetland restoration. It is noted for integrating public accessibility with educational  features, using local materials and stories.

Stephen is quick to acknowledge a number of the project’s key supporters, particularly Shannon Bray, Waa Harris, Peter Dunkerley, the Community Foundation, Rotary Club of Stortford Lodge, Eastern and Central Community Trust and the preliminary work of Titchener Monzingo Aitken Ltd.

Iwi groups plus many children from schools (particularly Pukehou School) and Kiwi Conservation Club all played a key role in planting areas around the swamp.

 

 

Published in Issue 156
Thursday, 05 September 2019 09:02

Help at hand for Waikato wetlands

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.

 

 

Published in Issue 157
Tuesday, 27 August 2019 08:48

Canada needs wetlands (so does NZ)

Ducks Unlimited Canada are celebrating 75 years of existence this month, October 20013. In a special souvenir issue put out by the Calgary Herald there is a piece that explains why Canada needs wetlands. In New Zealand we need wetlands to be looked after as well, so here are the reasons given by the Canadians. These are reasons New Zealand can also take to heart.

Ducks Unlimited Canada are celebrating 75 years of existence this month, October 20013. In a special souvenir issue put out by the  Calgary Herald there is a piece that explains why Canada needs  wetlands. In New Zealand we need wetlands to be looked after as well, so here are the reasons given by the Canadians. These are reasons New Zealand can also take to heart.

Wetland - like marshes and ponds are some of the most productive ecosystems in the world. They work behind the scenes, providing many important benefits to all Canadians.

Clean water: wetlands filter harmful pollutants from the water we drink and improve the health of our lakes and rivers.

Homes for wildlife: hundreds of species depend on wetlands for food and raising their young.

Flood and drought prevention: wetlands act like giant sponges, holding water during wet periods and releasing it during dry periods. Fun and recreation: wetlands are beautiful places for people of all ages to be active and enjoy nature.

Given all they do, it is shocking that wetlands continue to be lost. Every day up to 80 acres of wetlands are lost in Canada. Your help is needed. Join Ducks Unlimited, Canada’s conservation community at www.ducks.ca

 

The following are excerpts from another article in that Calgary Herald publication linking science with nature and wetlands. This is already happening with the work DUNZ has 
instigated at Wairio Wetland in the Wairarapa. In Southland Waituna Lagoon is also 
attracting scientific interest.

Science is helping to increase the knowledge about wetlands and what they do. Ducks Unlimited Canada biologist Owen Steele said: “As one of the Earth’s most  productive ecosystems, wetlands are also among the most threatened.

“A lot of people don’t care if wetlands are a good place for ducks or frogs or anything else, society is so urbanised we’ve lost touch with nature. “But if their home is going to get washed away of they’re no longer able to drink their tap water because of disappearing wetlands, they are suddenly interested. “

Steele says if the river that runs through their town is going to be green, scummy and unattractive to walk by, they are going to sit up and pay attention.

Research in North America clearly shows the critical environmental benefits wetlands provide, which include clean water and habitat for wildlife, reducing flooding and erosion and lessening the impact of climate change.

As wetlands are lost so too are the benefits they provide. These include phosphorus removal - without wetlands more phosphorus will go into our lakes and rivers.

There is also the carbon stored in wetlands. The biological diversity and the social benefits of wetlands start adding up. Landscape changes that include roading, rail lines and pipelines can all affect wetlands.

Owen Steel said: “Things like our jobs, the economy and our health are all important  issues; we need to figure out a way to link  wetland protection and conservation to those issues.

“We still have a long way to go in prevention of wetland loss.”

 

 

Published in Issue 157
Tuesday, 27 August 2019 06:19

Wetland Day 2014

Coming soon – World Wetlands Day, the Ramsar Convention’s annual campaign day February 2, 2014. The theme this year is 
Wetland and Agriculture, a topic of relevance to almost everyone involved in wetlands!


Visit the Ramsar Secretariat’s web site www. ramsar.org/WWD to find out more. Hard and soft copy materials (poster, leaflet, cartoon etc), will be available. Write now to wwd@ ramsar.org to receive hard copies and the 
design files if you wish to customise their materials.

Published in Issue 158
Tuesday, 27 August 2019 05:51

Banrock Station wetlands get a boost

Nearly 700 hectares of wetlands at Banrock Station are being artificially flooded. This is the first time in five years the area near Kingston-onMurray, has seen flooding.

Banrock Station, in the South Australian Riverland, is on the Ramsar list of internationally significant wetlands.

A new regulator is pumping 2.4 gigalitres of water into the wetlands, a task which will take the next year.

Wetlands manager Christophe Tourenq said the process should mimic the natural wet-dry cycles of the flood plain, boosting the health of native plants and wildlife in the area.

Christophe said they had high water levels all spring and after that water levels would be reduced a little bit during summer.

“After that, again high levels next winter and then we start again to have a dry wetland in two years time.”

He said the process would recreate what happened before the  construction of locks and weirs along the Murray River.

Story courtesy Wetland Care Australia.

Published in Issue 158
Tuesday, 27 August 2019 03:53

Science in the Swamp - WETmak now live

WETmak is a free online Wetland Monitoring and Assessment Kit aimed at groups working on wetland restoration projects in New Zealand. It includes a range of monitoring techniques and methods of assessing the impact of restoration work, all designed to minimise the need for expensive or complicated equipment.

The kit is available in different formats to suit user needs. You can download the entire resource or focus on specific modules. Blank datasheets and report templates can be printed off or downloaded to fill in electronically.

Download WETmak, print out a few datasheets, pull on your gumboots and head out with friends to get measuring. Increasing understanding of your restoration work will bring huge rewards and provide useful information for future planning.

There are 40 Wetlands to visit. DoC in association with the National Wetland Trust has produced a booklet about the 40 wetlands you can visit. 

Pick up a copy at your local DOC info centre or visit the DOC website to view them online.

A feature wetland is Nukuhous Saltmash, Burke Road, Ohiwa Harbour, Bay of Plenty.

Nukuhou Saltmarsh covers about 60 hectares where the Nukuhou

stream enters the Ohiwa Harbour. In 2003 the Nukuhou Saltmarsh Care Group was formed and with the help of the DoC and Environment Bay of Plenty, began a significant restoration and interpretation project.

Extensive plantings, weed and pest control, an overlook, interpretation panels, pottery bird plaques, a short boardwalk and a contemplation bench have made this a pleasant place to enjoy the wetland and listen quietly for fernbird calls (a high pitched single note).

Pest control has boosted fernbird numbers, as well as banded rail, Australasian bittern and waders.

 

 

Published in Issue 158
Monday, 22 July 2019 02:37

Wetlands to protect

Before human settlement (from around 1250–1300 AD), freshwater wetlands covered about 670,000 hectares of New Zealand. Now it is 89,000 ha – a loss of 90 percent. Fertile lowland swamps have been lost in greater numbers than those that were infertile or at high altitudes.

Wetland importance is often under-rated. Groups like our own DU, Wetland Care and the National Wetlands Trust are working towards reversing this trend.

There is a great diversity of wildlife in our wetlands with more native birds, fish, 
invertebrates and plants than most other habitats, yet many wetland species are threatened with extinction. Wetlands have high recreational values, and perform vital ecosystem services such as improving water quality and reducing flood risks.

They have a big role in managing climate change. Healthy peat bogs are year-round sinks of 2-5 tonnes of carbon per hectare – locking it up in their soil indefinitely.

Wetlands are of cultural and spiritual significance to Maori. They provided Maori with food (wildfowl, eels and other freshwater fish), taro cultivation, harakeke (flax) for weaving and other materials for medicinal, food, building, and craft use.

A plethora of wetland to visit
 
Farewell Spit - at the northern most tip of the South Island is one of our most important wetland areas. Part of the spit forms a Ramsar Wetland site of significance and is an important staging area for migratory shorebirds on the East Asia - Australasia path. Just two hours from Nelson, the area has been a wildlife sanctuary since the 1930s and is a haven for over 90 bird species.
 
Whangamarino
 
Whangamarino - 62km south of Auckland is the second largest bog and swamp complex
in the North Island - another Ramsar site. 

Managed by DOC, the 5923ha of peat bog, swampland, mesotrophic lags, open water and river systems, is an important habitat for threatened species like Australasian bittern, grey teal, spotless crake, the North Island fernbird and black mudfish.

Firth of Thames

At the base of Coromandel Peninsula, the Firth of Thames has 8500ha of wide inter-tidal flats which attract thousands of migratory wading birds. Some make the arduous 10,000km journey south from the Arctic in spring and fly north again in the autumn; others fly 1000km north from the braided rivers of the South Island in the autumn and return in the spring.

Wairarapa Moana Wetlands Park

Lake Wairarapa, Lake Onoke and their associated wetlands make up the largest 
wetland complex in the southern North Island, supporting native plants and animals of national and international importance.

The diverse habitats within Wairarapa Moana attract a wide range of wetland birds - about 100 species including international migratory birds.
 
The area is also of national importance to fisheries. Among 10 native species, which migrate between the sea and fresh water, are long-finned and short-finned eel, brown mudfish and giant kokopu.

Lower Kaituna Wildlife Reserve

Northeast of Te Puke, western Bay of Plenty, Kaituna is a reminder of how the country used to be with an abundance of cabbage trees and flax, pukeko prowling through raupo, numerous ducks, shags and pied stilts foraging for food in the waterways.

West Coast wetlands

The South Island’s West Coast has a variety of large and valuable wetlands, including lakes, swamps, fens, bogs, marshes, lagoons,
estuaries and pakihi / poorly drained, infertile land. Most are fully protected and are important breeding grounds for rare species.
 
The only kōtuku / white heron breeding colony in New Zealand is located on the Waitangiroto River close to Okarito Lagoon - north of Franz Josef glacier. The region is one of the last strongholds for the Australasian bittern and a large part of the habitat is suitable for crakes - a rarely seen shy bird.

Ō Tū Wharekai wetland

Ō Tū Wharekai, covering the Ashburton lakes and Upper Rangitata River in Canterbury, is an unspoiled, intact, intermontane wetland system and is nationally important for wildlife.

Otago wetlands

Lake Waipori, Lake Waihola and their associated wetlands are the most significant waterfowl habitat in Otago 40km south of Dunedin. The lakes are shallow and drain through an extensive swamp into the Waipori River and then the Taieri River.

Over 60 species of bird live in or visit the wetland. It is now privately owned by Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu and protected by a QE II National Trust Open Space Covenant.
 
Southland wetlands
 
The waters, mudflats and marginal vegetation of Southland’s large tidal estuaries and coastal lagoons - Jacobs River Estuary, New River Estuary, Bluff Harbour and Awarua Bay, Waituna Lagoon and Toetoes Harbour - make up the most important bird habitat areas in Southland.

More than 80 bird species have been sighted in the area, 65 of which are dependent on the estuarine environment.

Southland’s estuaries rank alongside Farewell Spit and Lake Ellesmere as the top three wading bird habitats in the South Island.
 

 

Published in Issue 163
Sunday, 21 July 2019 23:38

Planting continues at Wairio wetland

A small band of us managed to get a further 790 plants in the ground at Stages 1 and 4. This brought the total for the year to about 2500.

The water was quite high at Stage 4 so there are still some spots to be planted.

We still have 400 suitable plants at Norfolk Road Nursery and Don Bell will arrange for them to be planted when the water recedes. He will also plant about 100 Totara and
Kanuka in spot sprayed areas of Stage 2. These plants will be a modest addition to our Tree Budget. Don will also arrange to place the weed mats and install the Grotectors not yet in place.

We did not do this during the July planting due to time constraints – priority was on getting the trees in the ground.

Jim Law
 

 

Published in Issue 161
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