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Nationwide Events To Celebrate World Wetlands Day

MEDIA RELEASE
Tuesday January 27, 2004

Nationwide Events To Celebrate World Wetlands Day 2004

A nationwide series of events is taking place in early February to mark World Wetland’s Day (WWD). The day is held internationally on February 2. Fish & Game New Zealand, the lead agency for New Zealand’s WWD, today announced the events and activities taking place around the country (list attached).

“There are a wide range of interesting events taking place to celebrate wetlands,” says Graham Ford, Fish & Game New Zealand spokesperson. “They include open days at wetlands, bus tours of wetlands, displays, speakers on wetland issues and management and in Southland a huge ‘plant-a-thon’ with 600 trees being planted by the Waiau Trust at the Rakatu wetland.”

“Wetlands are the Cinderella of the environment,” says Graham Ford. “People write them off as swamps, drainage ditches and the like, and view them as wasted land. And yet they are some of the most important ecosystems on the planet.”

“They play a very important role storing and purify water, replenishing groundwater, storing carbon and supporting biological diversity. World Wetland’s Day is a great opportunity to raise awareness with the public about these important features of our environment.”

“It is appropriate that Fish & Game coordinates WWD as the game bird hunting and freshwater angling community plays a very significant, and generally unrecognised role, in environmental management and protection in this country,” says Mr Ford.

According to the United Nations, last century 50% of the world’s remaining wetlands were destroyed. Other wetlands have been significantly modified to fragment and alter water flow in 60% of the world’s largest rivers, compromising many valuable ecosystem functions.

New Zealand’s record at managing wetlands has been very poor. There are now less than 10 percent of our wetlands left. Between 1954 and 1976, 12,000 hectares of wetlands were being lost each year. Until the mid 1980s farmers were still being encouraged to drain wetlands through subsidies.”

Wetlands are home to more bird, animal and plant species than any other type of habitat. Wetlands are home to rare and endangered animals and birds such as the Australasian bittern, brown teal, ferns and mosses.

They play an important international environmental role. Many migrating birds seek to visit wetlands. Arctic waders and terns migrate south after breeding during winter in the Southern Hemisphere. Thousands of godwits and sandpipers visit New Zealand wetlands annually.

A large number of agencies come together to hold events to mark the Day. Agencies participating this year include: Fish & Game New Zealand, The Department of Conservation, Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society, Iwi, Regional and District Councils, and the National Wetlands Trust.

ENDS

World Wetland’s Day 2004 - Events and Activities

WWD 2004 falls on Monday February 2, therefore some organisers are planning activities for Sunday February 1 or adjacent dates as this is more convenient.

Northland
- Open Day at the Mimiwhangata Farm Park wetland near Whangarei on 8 February. Guests will tour the wetland and hear speakers on the subjects of Brown Teal habitat, management of the wetland, the value of invertebrates, wetland enhancement and wetland pest management. DOC, Fish & Game, NZ Landcare Trust. Contact: Helen Moodie 09 436 3170


Auckland/Waikato

- Field trip to the “Cock’s Block” in the Whangamarino wetlands 1 February to see the successful protection of its peat bog, followed by a visit to the Torehape Reserve to see the successful restoration of a natural wetland system after a peat mining operation. The field trip will include speakers on wetland ecology and behaviour of migratory birds. A barbeque lunch will be provided at the Miranda Shore Bird Centre. Following the lunch there is a visit to the shell banks at the Miranda Chenier plain. National Wetlands Trust of NZ, Fish & Game, DOC. Contact: Shonagh Lindsay 09 360 5801

Eastern
- Open day at the Kaituna wetland near Te Puke on 2 February. The Open Day features a banding demonstration and speakers. Fish & Game, Environment Bay of Plenty: Contact John Meikle 07 357 5501


Hawke’s Bay
- Open Day at Ahuriri Estuary, Napier, on Sunday 1 February. Wetland displays and guided field trip to the Ahuriri Estuary and a discussion on threats and management issues followed by a sausage sizzle. Hawke’s Bay Regional Council, DOC, Napier City Council, Forest and Bird, Ahuriri Estuary Protection Society, Ornithological Society, Fish & Game. Contact. John Cheyne 06 8442460

- Wetland Tour. The Tararua Branch of Forest and Bird are meeting at 2 pm on Monday 2 February at the property of Mr W.J. Turner on the Otope Rd. Dannevirke to see and hear about the restoration and improvements to his wetland. Forest and Bird. Contact Ann Green 06 374 5208


Taranaki (National Event)
- Field trip on 1 February to New Plymouth's Barrett Lagoon to view recent riparian fencing and planting. The area contains a 6ha lake, with at least an equivalent area of native bush and kauri plantation with an associated walkway network. The lake is currently home to 70 moulting Canada Geese and at least 400 Paradise Shelduck. Speakers will explain the geology and history of the Lake and its conservation, followed by refreshments. There will be the launch of the 2004 Game bird Stamp and presentation to Taranaki Regional Council, Fish & Game, Taranaki Regional Council. Contact: Allen Stancliff 06 757 9676.

- Wetland supplement in the New Plymouth Daily Post. F&G

Nelson
- To be held on 3 February. Landowner discussion day on a Rai Valley property with existing wetland management issues/possibilities. Focus of the day will be landowner management, enhancement, and creation of wetlands on their own land, including input from Fish & Game regarding its new freshwater biodiversity advice service and how this can assist landowners. BBQ lunch. Fish & Game. Contact: Rhys Barrier 03 544 6382

- Public talk at Nelson City Council chambers on evening of the 4 February on wetland restoration opportunities. DOC, Nelson City Council. Contact DOC 03 546 9335.

- Open day on the 15 February at Mangarakau Swamp. The event includes talks about wetlands and about Mangarakau, and guided tours along tracks to viewing areas. Displays and speakers at the old Mangarakau community hall. Friends of Mangarakau Swamp Inc. Soc, Tasman District Council. Contact Sharon Baxter 03 543 8484

Marlborough
- Open Day at the Grovetown Lagoon on 1 February. Tour of the wetland viewing recent plantings and talks about wetlands. Sausage sizzle followed by swimming and canoeing in the Wairau River opposite Rowing Club. Marlborough District Council. Contact Lynda Neame: 03 578 5249

- Wetland supplement in the Marlborough Express. Marlborough District Council


North Canterbury


- Bus tour on 2 February. Talks by Colin Hill (Ornithologist), Rochelle Hardy and Sjaan Charteris (Fish people / water quality) and a local botanist at Van Eghan’s reserve. Then on to Aquahaven for a tour of the eel farm before lunch at Lakeside Domain where there will be weaving demonstrations. Back to Christchurch with a quiz and chocolate fish prizes on the bus. . Fish & Game. Contact: Rochelle Hardy 03 366 9191

- Open Day on 15 February at a wetland near the mouth of the Hurinui River. Guests will visit a wetland on a farm close to the river. The open day will include speakers on the management of the wetland, removal of pest plants, weed control and the planting of native flora. An educational tour of the wetland will be provided for children. Environment Canterbury. Contact Janine Holland: 03 353 9732

Central South Island
- Tree planting day on 2 February by school children at the river mouth wetlands of the Opihi River. DOC, Fish & Game, Ngai Tahu, Environment Canterbury. Contact: Adrian Cogle 03 693 9994


Otago
- Newspaper wetlands feature. Fish & Game. Contact Richard Fitzpatrick 03 477 9076.

- Queenstown Visitor Centre display. DOC, Fish & Game.


West Coast
- Creation of photographic and interpretive display featuring the Brunner catchment, which is currently under scrutiny from all and sundry due to potential threats on the lake from external pollutants. This will be launched on 2 February and will also be on show at Moana during the busy holiday season. DOC, Fish & Game. Contact Chris Tonkin 03 755 8546

- Guided walk and other activities at Hapuka Walkway, Saturday 31 January. The walk includes fish, plant, and bird identification as well as flax weaving. DOC. Contact: Chrissy Wickes 03 750 0809.

Southland
- On Sunday 1 February there will be a planting day at the Waiau Trust’s Rakatu wetlands. Six hundred trees will be planted. The day will start from Fish & Game’s office in Invercargill where buses will be available to transport participants to Rakatu. Upon arrival at Rakatu, guests will be briefed on development of the wetlands. It is anticipated that earthworks will be occurring during the visit giving participants the chance to observe the various stages of wetland development. After an overview of the wetlands and the general requirements for planting wetland species, participants will have the opportunity to explore the wetlands and help plant some of the hundreds of carex and cabbage trees that will accelerate the colonisation of these species throughout the recently established wetlands. Lunch and refreshments are being provided. Fish & Game, Waiau Trust. Contact: Zane Moss 03 215 9117.


ENDS

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