Video | Business Headlines | Internet | Science | Scientific Ethics | Technology | Search

 


UC research looking at ways to conserve NZ wetlands

UC research looking at ways to conserve important NZ wetlands

January 16, 2014


Click for big version.

Olivia Burge

A University of Canterbury (UC) postgraduate student is looking at ways to help conserve one of New Zealand’s biggest wetlands.

UC PhD student Olivia Burge is investigating the Awarua-Waituna wetland, in Southland, which was New Zealand’s first and largest internationally-recognised wetland site and at 20,000 ha it is the largest out of 55,000 ha of wetlands recognised nationally. 

New Zealand has an international commitment to protect the existing ecological character of the site. DOC currently manages the wetland through the Arawai Kākāriki programme, which aims to enhance the restoration of three of New Zealand’s foremost wetland sites and apply lessons learnt to other wetlands. The programme provides coordinated investment guided by restoration objectives.

The recent history of Awarua-Waituna wetland includes clearance and drainage for agriculture, lagoon level manipulation and large fires. Current vegetation communities include a mix of wetland species which are stable and not likely to decrease over time; disturbance-induced communities of varying age and biodiversity value which might decrease as the vegetation recovers from disturbance; and some fragments of native forest. 

Species which are rare elsewhere are present at the site, but occur in disturbance-induced wetland communities. Understanding the barriers to natural regeneration will help managers realise potential habitat improvement for a number of threatened species.

``The area of the wetland I am working in is mostly covered in manuka,’’ Burge says.

``It provides important habitat for fern bird and bittern, two threatened species, but we think there is potential for further habitat improvement if forest communities regenerated naturally. It is not clear why the forest is not regenerating. This is the focus of my thesis.

``My results to date suggest that, along with fire prevention, pest control (particularly possums and rats) is a top priority for supporting restoration in the wetland. 

``Possums and rats were not initially thought to be causing problems in the wetland but we have found they are grazing on young forest plants, limiting regeneration. Increasing seed dispersal is another potential management method.

``New Zealand has lost around 90 percent of the estimated pre-human extent of wetlands so there is a huge opportunity for forest regeneration and restoration if we can understand more of the threats and manage them appropriately. 

``Eighty-two percent of pre-human New Zealand was covered in indigenous forest and this figure has dropped to 24 percent, which is a reduction in area of 14,000,000 ha, or 71 percent of the original forest area.’’

Burge’s research, supervised by Professor Dave Kelly, is funded jointly by the Department of Conservation’s Arawai Kākāriki programme and the Miss E L Hellaby Indigenous Grasslands Research Trust.

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines

 

Media: Julian Wilcox Leaves Māori TV

Māori Television has confirmed the resignation of Head of News and Production Julian Wilcox. Mr Maxwell acknowledged Mr Wilcox’s significant contribution to Māori Television since joining the organisation in 2004. More>>

ALSO:

Genetics: New Heat Tolerant Cow Developed

Hamilton, New Zealand-based Dairy Solutionz Ltd has led an expert genetics team to develop a new dairy cow breed conditioned to thrive in lower elevation tropical climates and achieve high milk production under heat stress. More>>

Fractals: Thousands More Business Cards Needed To Build Giant Sponge

New Zealand is taking part in a global event this weekend to build a Menger Sponge using 15 million business cards but local organisers say they are thousands of business cards short. More>>

Scoop Business: NZ Net Migration Rises To Annual Record In September

New Zealand’s annual net migration rose to a record in September, beating government forecasts, as the inflow was spurred by student arrivals from India and Kiwis returning home from Australia. More>>

ALSO:

Scoop Business: Fletcher To Close Its Christchurch Insulation Plant, Cut 29 Jobs

Fletcher Building, New Zealand’s largest listed company, will close its Christchurch insulation factory, as it consolidates its Tasman Insulations operations in a “highly competitive market”. More>>

ALSO:

Scoop Business: Novartis Adds Nine New Treatments Under Pharmac Deal

Novartis New Zealand, the local unit of the global pharmaceuticals firm, has added nine new treatments in a far-ranging agreement with government drug buying agency, Pharmac. More>>

ALSO:

Crown Accounts: English Wary On Tax Take, Could Threaten Surplus

Finance Minister Bill English is warning the tax take may come in below forecast in the current financial year, as figures released today confirm it was short by nearly $1 billion in the year to June 30 and English warned of the potential impact of slumping receipts from agricultural exports. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 
 
Standards New Zealand

Standards New Zealand

Mosh Social Media
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Sci-Tech
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news