Zone committees promote wetlands as assets
NZ Landcare Trust set up practical wetland demonstration sites as part of the ‘Managing Wetlands as Farm Assets’ event series, demonstrating a range of wetlands across different farming systems and varying ecological zones of Canterbury.
The series of events are held on-farm around the region by farmers and are co-funded by us and a number of industry organisations.
The event took place near another recent project of ours – where a group of volunteers are restoring the Otematata Wetlands Walkway. That project has received Immediate Steps funding in previous years.
NZ Landcare Trust ran the event, and are working with farmers, providing advice and knowledge about the range of benefits wetlands offer the farming system and wider community.
Support from others if needed
While most farmers want to protect the environment, some have concerns about having a wetland area identified on the farm as it can be challenging to know how to protect and manage it.
The event showcased how farmers can lead and undertake such projects, with support from others when required.
On the day, the group of about 40 attendees were shown a wetland covered with willows, broom and other weeds.
They were shown how to make a start on improving the health of the wetland with small-but-effective techniques, such as:
- weed control to allow native species the space to grow
- establishing photo points to catch the progression towards a healthy wetland
- strategic planting to enrich the existing plant community.
Providing rich biodiversity values
Our principal biodiversity advisor for wetlands, Jason Butt, led part of the discussions around wetland identification and protection and said he was pleased with how the events have gone so far.
“The enthusiasm of the landowners is an asset to the project. I look forward to more farmer-led projects in future,” he said.
Participants included some of the local farming community, our staff, water zone committee members from Upper and Lower Waitaki, rūnanga representatives, ecological restoration contractors, Environment Canterbury councillors, NZ Landcare Trust organisers and the Department of Conservation (DOC).
Wetlands are rich in biodiversity values and provide habitats for many species of plants and animals.
Among other things, wetlands:
- work like kidneys by filtering out sediment and nutrients, improving water quality;
- can help to mitigate floods;
- support many species of plants and animals that are found nowhere else;
- improve recreational values, such as game bird hunting opportunities;
- are of great cultural and spiritual significance to Māori.
If you are unsure what to do with a wetland on your farm, call your Land Management Advisor, or phone us on 0800 324 636.