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Science to help save wetlands

1 July 2005

Science to help save wetlands

The Foundation for Research, Science and Technology is to invest nearly $2 million over the next four years to help save New Zealand's dwindling wetlands.

Wetlands are one of the most important ecosystems on earth as they control water quality and quantity, regulate global carbon levels, provide habitat for flora and fauna and have significant cultural and recreational values.

Some 90% of the country's original wetlands have been progressively destroyed since European settlement and there is a strong desire to save the wetlands that remain.

The aim of the project, which will be undertaken by the Crown Research Institute Landcare Research, is to increase the protection and restoration of wetlands by providing scientifically based guidelines to policy makers, landowners and managers.

The research will focus on major wetland types that are under greatest threat in coastal and lowland New Zealand. Various scientific studies will be carried out to look at the impact of nutrients and water that filters into wetlands from surrounding land.

The studies will also look at what has happened in wetlands that have been drained, invaded by alien plants or modified so that techniques can be devised to restore these and other wetlands.

General Manager of Investments at the Foundation, Dr John Smart, says that many of New Zealand's wetlands are globally distinctive and once lost cannot be recovered. He says remaining wetlands are still being modified and many are in dire need of rehabilitation. The funds invested should help managers to protect those that are left.

This project is one of a number that the Foundation is investing in as part of its natural ecosystems funding round.

ENDS

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