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Fish & Game keen to spearhead more wetland projects

Fish & Game hopes the recently opened Ohaaki Wetland at Reporoa will serve as a model for the development of more wetlands.

The wetland has been created through the work and funding provided by Contact Energy, Fish & Game, Wairakei Environmental Mitigation Charitable Trust (WEMCT) and the Waikato Catchment Ecological Enhancement Trust (WCEET).

Eastern Fish & Game Council chairman Barry Roderick, one of the speakers at the official opening yesterday ( Friday Nov 23), says the project is an excellent example of a joint venture with a number of groups working together to benefit the environment.

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

"Fish & Game is keen to build on the success of Ohaaki and “more than willing to work with other corporates and organisations to explore and develop more wetland and riparian projects for hunters, conservationists and iwi.”

Mr Roderick says the Ohaaki Wetland came about as the result of foresight, hard work, and not least, some incredible generosity on the part of Contact Energy and the funding trusts involved.

But he also points to the work of hunters, “Without them and their efforts to preserve or enhance their hunting spots – New Zealand would have a lot fewer wetlands.”

The Wildfowlers Association was among the first to push for the Ohaaki project, he adds.

“Game bird hunters, and Fish & Game, have been the strongest advocates for wetland protection and enhancement. For many decades now we’ve worked with landowners across the country trying to claw back lost habitat,” Mr Roderick says.

“Fish & Game is extremely proud to have played a leading role in wetland protection – as wetland experts - managing, developing or helping to create numerous wetlands in many parts of the country.”

Some of these have been very small scale projects where farmers and other landowners have been helped to turn flood-prone and swampy areas into healthy wetland environments.

Ohaaki Wetland is at the other end of the scale – an impressive $1 million dollar project, bringing a host of benefits – not only environmental, Mr Roderick says. The wetland project has provided work for local contractors, and nurseries and other firms have also been involved.

He says one of the great things about Ohaaki is its multipurpose nature; the wetland has already proved a success as a place for hunters to target game birds in the season. But it’s also been designed so that the general public can visit – and observe the healthy ecosystem that’s been created, and its variety of birds and wildlife. It should also have benefits for local iwi for harakeke (flax) and potentially tuna (eel) in the future.

As a first step to provide access throughout the wetland, a 900 metre easy walking track to a viewing hide has been constructed. As time goes on, visitors will be able to enjoy the tranquil setting while viewing more and more wildlife. Fish & Game have put up interpretation panels to tell the Ohaaki story.

Mr Roderick says local people who haven’t visited a large wetland before are encouraged to visit Ohaaki – for a look at what can be done to preserve these disappearing landscapes and ecosystems.

© Scoop Media

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