Volunteers connect with Kaikōura wetland restoration

Back to back volunteer planting days have taken place at Nagari wetland in the last two weeks. As the most significant wetland in the Lyell/Waikoau catchment, volunteers were able to participate in the Love the Lyell initiative funded by Environment Canterbury’s long term plan to protect and enhance wetlands.

All ages helping out 

A community planting day was held first. Open to all with a solid turn out of some 25 adults and 15 students from Kaikōura High School. The second planting day utilised The North Canterbury Transport Infrastructure Recovery (NCTIR) as a labour force during volunteer week, with around 40 people attending. Assisted by ECan Kaikōura with members of the Kaikōura Zone Committee, Kaikōura Plains Recovery Governance Group and Kaikōura District Council, the volunteers were split off into two groups; one for planting the wetlands, the other planting the stream edges.

With around 1,600 trees, shrubs and sedges (grasses) planted over the two days, this volunteer effort has saved money on labour costs, while engaging the wider public on the importance of wetlands and the many values that they provide.

Benefits of planting for biodiversity and communities

“The planting aims to increase biodiversity values, without removing from those currently on the site. We want to create corridors of food sources and habitat for native bush birds while cooling wetland and stream waterbodies with shade to reduce algae blooms," says Heath Melville, Ecan’s Project Delivery Officer.

"There is also personal and social benefits of volunteering, the significant legacy the owner is giving and how collaboration between communities, landowners, local governing organisations and individuals can make good things happen." 

Why are wetlands important? 

“Wetlands are protected under the Resource Management Act (1991), though this has done little to halt their decline nationally. Kaikōura Zone has lost over 95% of its wetlands, particularly to drainage for pasture over the last 120 years. Nature, via our Earthquake, is bringing some of these back. Environment Canterbury is on-board to assist landowners to identify these areas and work out what to do with them. All the while acknowledging the economic values of drainage but optimising their multiple values, including Mahinga Kai, biodiversity refuges, stormwater retention, carbon sequestration, farm auditing tick-off and soil health.” Says Kevin Heays, Kaikōura Zone Lead.

Children from local Kaikōura schools helped on the day
Above: Children from local Kaikōura schools helped on the day. Featured photo: NCTIR workers enjoyed a day at the wetland.