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Minister Celebrates Conservation Achievements

Conservation Achievements Celebrated On World Wetlands Day

Minister of Conservation Sandra Lee awarded seven outstanding native wetland restoration projects awards as part of a World Wetlands Day celebration.

“Wetlands are seen as a bit of a poor cousin to our more charismatic native species like the kakapo and kiwi. However, New Zealand’s wetlands are valuable ecosystems that support a multitude of life and are an essential part of our country’s unique biodiversity.”

“The projects highlighted through these awards give us a glimpse of the community commitment to restoring and managing our wetlands and the wildlife they contain. The people behind these projects are working hard to conserve wetlands, so that they are healthy natural areas that will be appreciated by generations to come.”

The presentations also mark 2 February as World Wetlands Day, celebrating the international convention on wetlands conservation, signed at Ramsar, Iran 29 years ago.

From north to south, the awards are presented to:

 Waipa District Council, for its restoration of the Lake Ngaroto wetland;

 Keith Thompson of Hamilton, for his lifetime contribution to wetland research, education and management;

 Environment Waikato for its promotion to landowners of the value of wetland conservation;

 Taranaki Regional Council for its extensive restoration programme for regionally significant wetlands and for the assistance that is provides for others to manage their wetlands;

 Ray Bushell of Tauranga, for his personal labours in managing the Kaituna Wildlife Management Reserve;

 Tauranga District Council for its work in acquiring and managing the Matua saltmarsh; and

 The Travis Wetland Trust, for its work in establishing and managing the Travis Wetland Nature Heritage Park in Christchurch.

“The variety of projects receiving awards today show the full range of efforts necessary for New Zealanders to help protect this important aspect of our biodiversity," Sandra Lee said.

Waipa District Council

The restoration of Lake Ngaroto began in 1995, in response to ecological studies that had shown the lake and its surrounding environment to be degrading fast. Its oxygen levels were falling, algal blooms were common and water clarity was being lost. In response, the creatures that normally live in the lake were also being lost. The Waipa District Council led the restoration, controlling weeds around the lake and replacing them with suitable native plants and by fencing off the reserve. It has also installed silt and nutrient traps and built a boardwalk at the southern end of the lake to allow visitors to cross the swamplands. The Council has worked closely with the local community on this project and is commended for the way that it has promoted the benefits of wetland conservation.

Keith Thompson of Hamilton

Keith Thompson’s award acknowledges his lifetime contribution to wetland research, education and management. In the Waikato, he has been a key player in the advocacy and management of wetland restoration projects, including Lake Rotokawau and Kimihia, Torehape peat block and the Whangamarino swamp. He has shared his enthusiasm with adults and children, being a driving force in the Junior Naturalists Club.

Environment Waikato

Environment Waikato is taking a leadership role in advocacy for wetland conservation. Its current project uses a series of fact sheets for landowners, promoting the ecological value of wetlands and describing how they can be managed.

Taranaki Regional Council
The Taranaki Regional Council has made great strides in restoring and managing Taranaki’s regionally significant wetlands. It has also put a lot of effort into promoting the ecological value of wetlands and providing financial assistance and technical advice to encourage the people of Taranaki to do the same.

Ray Bushell of Tauranga

Ray Bushell has led a restoration programme at the Kaituna Wildlife Management Reserve since 1993, leading and encouraging others in the community to work alongside him. He has gained the support and involvement of iwi and the Te Puke Fish and Game in this work. The programme has involved predator-trapping, weed control, excavation and planting to create diverse wildlife habitats in the reserve.

Tauranga District Council & the Matua Saltmarsh Committee

The Tauranga District Council and Matua Saltmarsh Committee are commended for the acquisition and restoration of the Matua Saltmarsh Nature Reserve in Tauranga Harbour. The Council is managing the reserve to protect its indigenous flora and fauna and to allow the study and enjoyment of a natural saltmarsh ecosystem. Its predator control programme and the high ground remnant of the former stop bank now provides safe haven for many bird species found naturally in this area. The Reserve now has a network of walkways to allow visitors to view the site without damaging it.

The Travis Wetland Trust

The Travis Wetland Trust was formed in 1992 to promote restoration and protection of the former Travis Wetland, which had been drained and filled to make it suitable for farming and housing but was now a landscape of willow, gorse, broom, lupin and blackberry. The Trust was the driving force in lobbying the Christchurch City Council to buy the wetland in 1996. It has subsequently led the development of a concept plan and vision for the wetland and undertaken regular programmes of weed clearance and plantings. The water table has now been restored and a central pond constructed. The wetland, now known as the Travis Wetland Nature Heritage Park is once more home to much of its former native wildlife and a great attraction for the people of Christchurch.

ENDS

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