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World Wetlands Day In The Waikato

Healthy Wetlands, Healthy People - World Wetlands Day 2 February 2008 in the Waikato

World Wetlands Day 2008 will be celebrated in the Waikato with a field trip on Saturday 2nd February, which looks at how we can manage healthy wetlands while meeting our growing agricultural demands.

Each year World Wetlands Day is acknowledged with a host of events throughout the country when Fish & Game NZ leads a range of organizations in creating varied wetland experiences around that year’s WWD theme, chosen to highlight an issue facing wetlands internationally.

This year’s theme of ‘Healthy Wetlands, Healthy People’ explores the strong relationship between healthy functioning wetland ecosystems and human health.

It underlines how we need management strategies that support both the health of wetland ecosystems and the health of humans.

“Wetlands remove nutrients, harmful chemicals and pathogenic organisms from runoff and wastewater. They filter out suspended sediment from erosion and regulate floodwaters. Their fish stocks are a source of food for millions of people and their wet margins grow crops. Wetlands have provided at least 500 sq km of good farmland in the Waikato alone”, says Keith Thompson, wetland ecologist taking the WWD field trip.

“It is time to recognize how important wetlands are to us all and help to preserve those that we have left – both to continue providing all these benefits and also to conserve the huge diversity of plants and animals in them and the recreational and aesthetic values that they have for the wider community.”

The WWD field trip is free with buses leaving from the NIWA car park, Gate 10 Silverdale Road, Hillcrest, Hamilton at 9.15am.

The field trip begins with a visit to DairyNZ ‘s dairyshed wastewater treatment plant where the value of riparian wetlands is demonstrated for reducing effluent and nutrient loading on farms, followed by a stop at Lake Te Koutou in Cambridge to discuss how the impact of stormwater runoff, sediment loading and emergent species on an urban lake’s water quality can be decreased.

A lunch stop is planned for Lake Serpentine East to view the riparian restoration of this lovely Waipa peat lake, followed by a brief visit to Lake Cameron to discuss the role of the local Fish & Game club and Lake Cameron Care Group in the lake’s riparian planting and restoration.

The field trip ends at Te Kowhai, north-west of Hamilton, where we visit Te Otamanui Lagoon, which has been impacted by a range of issues: the town’s expansion, rubbish dump leachate, catchment management and flooding from the Waipa River.

Each bus will have a commentator to describe other wetland features en route, such as blueberry-growing on the deep peats of Moanatuatua bog, managing kahikatea remnants and riparian management to protect streams.

Participants will be returned by bus to the NIWA car park at around 4.30pm.

WWD celebrates the signing of the International Convention on Wetlands in Ramsar, Iran in 1971. The Convention came into force in 1975 and New Zealand became a signatory in 1976. There are now 157 member countries to the Ramsar Convention, which commits its member countries to national action and international co-operation for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources.

In the Waikato WWD is being celebrated by Fish & Game NZ, the National Wetland Trust, Department of Conservation, Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society, Mighty River Power, Iwi, and Regional and District Councils.


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