Wetlands Day at Auckland Zoo

Press Release – Fish and Game New Zealand
Fish & Game is continuing to play a leading role in the conservation and creation of wetlands – either spearheading or assisting with a number of projects as the New Year gains momentum.

Today is World Wetlands Day, observed round the world to celebrate wetlands for their environmental values and benefits. The slogan this year is ‘wetlands take care of water’.

Fish & Game communications advisor Grant Dyson says New Zealand has lost most of its natural wetlands, through land development, but a new awareness of their importance is dawning.

He says that Auckland Zoo’s activities today are but one example – the zoo celebrating World Wetlands Day today with a special display focused on the sort of birds and animals these precious environments support.

“This sort of effort is helping Kiwis appreciate the vital role that these wetlands play, providing habitat for all sorts of birds, animals and plant life.

“Our wetlands include a wide variety of swamps, bogs, lakes, rivers, lagoons and estuaries and are crucial in providing habitats for wildlife – and maintaining biodiversity,” he says.

“We are now aware of the important role they play in ‘taking care of water,’ helping reduce flooding, recharging groundwater and augmenting flows, and filtering runoff pollution.

“Fish & Game, and game bird hunters, are proud to have played a leading role in wetland protection and conservation – managing and creating numerous wetlands in many parts of the country.”

Mr Dyson says some of this work has been on a small scale level, assisting farmers and other landowners to turn flood-prone and swampy areas of their properties into healthy wetland environments, supporting a variety of plants, birds and animals.

“We’re keen to hear from any landowners who want to discuss with Fish & Game the services and assistance we can offer – ranging from evaluations, costings, resource consent help, and planting recommendations, and the potential for funding through the Game Bird Habitat Trust.”

Fish & Game also works with corporate landowners, with a prime example the development of the $1 million Ohaaki Wetland opened late last year at Reporoa near Taupo.

The wetland was created through the work and funding provided by Contact Energy, Wairakei Environmental Mitigation Charitable Trust (WEMCT) and the Waikato Catchment Ecological Enhancement Trust (WCEET). Fish & Game’s Eastern Region oversaw the project.

“Ohaaki wetland is a great model, a formula that works, which can be applied towards developing more wetlands – habitats that remain very much under threat nationally.”

Fish & Game is more than willing to work with other big corporates and organisations to explore and develop more wetland and riparian projects for hunters, conservationists and iwi, Mr Dyson adds.

He says it’s worth noting again that hunters have played a key role in preserving or enhancing wetlands around the country, and in the case of Ohaaki, the Wildfowlers Association was among the first to push for the project.

Wetlands are also more accessible than people might think; New Zealand has no less than 40 which the public can visit (information on DOC’s website), and there are six designated of international importance. These include the Firth of Thames, Whangamarino Wetland, Manawatu Estuary, Farewell Spit and Waituna Wetland in Southland. This 3,556 hectare scientific reserve has a lagoon,ponds, lakes and peatland. In 1976 the reserve became the country’s first designated Wetland of International Importance under the Ramsar Convention (see below).

Further Information contact: Fish & Game Communications Advisor Grant Dyson 07-357 5501 or 027-686242.

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World Wetlands Day – Around the Regions

Auckland

Auckland Zoo is celebrating World Wetlands Day (Saturday Feb 2) with a range of displays by different organisations. Visit the zoo to see the sort of birds and animals these precious environments support. Organisations taking part include Fish & Game, the National Wetlands Trust, Forest and Bird, and Wai Care. The day will run from 9am to 5pm, at Te Wao Nui, outside the Wetlands area, and in the Islands amphitheatre. http://www.aucklandzoo.co.nz/media/56804/auckland_zoo_map.pdf

Waikato

The National Wetland Trust will launch the start of work on a pest fence at Lake Serpentine on Saturday, February 2 – site of the proposed National Wetland Centre. After a brief ground-breaking ceremony, visitors can walk a virtual ‘garden path’ following the route of the planned wetland gardens to the site of the proposed visitor centre. Posters will provide artists’ impressions. Activities will include wetland master classes – art and photography courses, flax weaving, etc, and kids competitions. Free entry and free buses from Hamilton, leaving every half hour from 10am, from the Landcare Research car park, Gate 10, Silverdale Road. Return half hourly from 10.30 to 3 pm. Contact: karen.denyer@wetlandtrust.org.nz

Taranaki

Taranaki Fish & Game is helping to host a field day at the Te Wawa Wetland, just north of the coastal settlement of Oakura on Sunday February 3. The 4.8 ha wetland, on properties leased from PKW Incorporation provides a habitat for a number of threatened and endangered bird and reptile species, including the Australasian bittern, spotless crake and gold-striped gecko. Work still to be carried out includes eradication of pest plants and further investigation of native animal life. Sunday’s field day will include addresses by the Taranaki Regional Council, Forest and Bird, QEII National Trust, Taranaki Tree Trust, and DOC. The field day starts at 10am, Koru Road, off SH 45 north of Oakura, signposted from the highway. Bring good walking shoes, hat and sunblock, and water or juice.

Nelson-Marlborough

Fish & Game is celebrating what has been achieved in the Para Wetland – Marlborough’s largest remaining freshwater wetland. While the primary aim of the project is to enhance game bird habitat and hunting opportunities, there is also scope for increased use by others including kayakers, bird watchers and trout fishermen outside the game bird season. Fish & Game Officer Vaughn Lynn says they’re delighted to receive recent funding assistance from the National Biodiversity Condition and Advice Fund. On Saturday February 2, between 10am and mid-day, members of the public are invited to visit Para Wetland – where Fish & Game staff will be on hand to provide information and explain what the completed project will look like. Contact Vaughan Lynn 027-222 5928.

In marking World Wetlands Day (WWD), Fish & Game Nelson-Marlborough Region has also sent a reminder to local landowners about its free freshwater services. Fish & Game Officer Rhys Barrier says the offer “is all about what we can do to help people either develop or enhance existing wetlands, enhance their local stream and manage stream crossings without affecting the passage of fish.”Anyone interested is encouraged to contact Fish & Game field officer Rhys Barrier, in Richmond on 03-5446382, or email: rbarrier@fishandgame.org.nz

Otago

In celebration of WWD, DOC is formally opening the Titri Creek track at the internationally renowned Waihola Waipori wetlands complex south of Dunedin. Visitors are then invited to attend a planting at Te Nohoaka o Tukiauau/Sinclair Wetlands. The Titri Creek opening is at 1.30pm, Saturday February 3. Meet at Titri Creek car park, Titri Road, Waihola. Planting at the Sinclair Wetlands will be from 2.30pm. Contact: Lucy Hardy 03- 474 7094 or lhardy@doc.govt.nz

Otago Fish & Game is using WWD to encourage local landowners to seek help to either create or improve existing wetlands via the Habitat Enhancement Fund. Otago Fish & Game field officer Morgan Trotter says people can seek grants of up to $1500 towards planting, fencing and construction costs. Priority projects most likely to receive funding include the creation and protection of significant areas of open water, and shallow wetlands that provide waterfowl breeding habitat. “Fish & Game are actively involved in protecting wetlands and waterways and the fund has proved popular with licence and private land holders alike.”

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