February 02, 2018

Living Water protecting internationally significant wetlands

DOC and Fonterra’s Living Water partnership is helping protect two of the world’s most significant wetlands, through a major initiative that brings together farmers, scientists, councils, mana whenua and communities.

Today (February 2nd) is World Wetland Day, which celebrates the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands - an international environmental agreement to recognise wetlands of international importance.

Two Living Water catchments, the Firth of Thames and Awarua-Waituna, are designated Ramsar Wetlands of International Importance.

Sarah Yarrow, Living Water programme lead for the South Island, says the programme is addressing the loss of wetland, freshwater ecosystems and lowland habitat in Awarua-Waituna.

“Water quality is poor in Waituna Lagoon due to high levels of sediment and nutrients. Part of our work involves working with landowners upstream to improve the health of the whole catchment.”

Landowners Raewyn and Tony van Gool have recently worked with Living Water to protect a significant wetland on their property.

Nearly 70 per cent of their farm is drains to a wetland protected by a category one QEII covenant. The wetland is exposed to saltwater winds and Living Water has funded planting to protect the area.

Vegetation creates shady areas where fish can thrive, and a recent survey found the wetland is home to native species such as giant kokopu and tuna (eels).

“Only 10 per cent of New Zealand’s wetlands are left and, as a survey released by Forest and Bird today shows, wetland quality is degrading.

“Wetlands act like the kidneys of the earth, cleaning the water that flows through them. Living Water is committed to protecting our precious wetlands,” says Sarah Yarrow.