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Catchment care programme celebrates fourth year


Catchment care programme celebrates fourth year - 3million sq mtrs enhanced

Fonterra and partners Conservation Volunteers New Zealand will this week celebrate the completion of the fourth year of a Catchment Care Programme that is working to enhance and protect waterways and wetlands throughout New Zealand.

Since its establishment in August 2009 over three million square metres of land has been improved through activities like riparian planting, fencing, removal of invasive species, water testing and plant maintenance, ensuring that existing plantings flourish for the future.

Here in the Waikato the Catchment Care programme has seen 1,200,000 square metres of land supported and the planting and weeding of almost 530,000 square metres to restore the fragile and nationally significant Waikato Peat Lakes.

The sheer scale of this work has been completed by volunteers - local residents, others from Auckland and many from around the world. A total of 4,660 days or nearly 38,000 hours of work generously gifted to protect the home of many unique plant and animal species living both in the lakes and around them.

“The lakes have been heavily affected by human impact and as a result water quality declined and indigenous biodiversity was lost,” says North Island National Operations Manager Fiona McLaughlin. “The Catchment Care Programme has had a major impact on restoring the peat lakes around the Waikato. Substantial planting has been completed around the lake margins creating new habitat for native birds, insects and other wildlife. With many of the plantings now well established sediment and nutrient run-off has reduced and shade on the lake’s waters is today restoring native fish and eel numbers.”

The Waikato Peat Lakes are the largest collection of this type of wetland in New Zealand. Globally, peat lakes are a rare phenomenon. Recognition of their unique values has highlighted the importance of their conservation and the many special native plants and animals that live in and around them.

“The programme has helped the Waikato District to improve the environment of Waikato lakes and peat land areas. Over the years improvements have been made and habitat enhanced at lakes including Kainui and Rotokauri,” Waikato District Council Project Development Officer Ben Wolf.

“The Catchment Care Programme has been a real asset to the Waipa District Council,” says Community Facilities Contracts Officer Rob Sinclair. “It’s allowed us to achieve significant in-roads into helping protect and enhance some of Waipa’s most important wetland areas -clearing sites of unwanted weeds, shifting fences, constructing boardwalks  and re-vegetation planting  around a number of peat lakes within the district. Without their support, we would not have been able to achieve as much as we have.”

The name ‘peat lake’ simply means the lake is associated with peat soil. Peat forms from the build-up of partially rotted plant material in wet environments. The peat found around the lakes in the Waikato has taken over 18,000 years to form and can be up to 11 metres deep.

Conservation Volunteers New Zealand run conservation and environmental programmes including habitat regeneration, enhancing our waterways and protecting New Zealand’s special habitats and wildlife.

Founded in Australia in 1982, Conservation Volunteers expanded operations to New Zealand in 2006. Today, Conservation Volunteers is a leader in delivery of practical conservation programmes, community involvement and a range of training programmes involving over 12,000 volunteers across Australia and New Zealand every year.

For more information visit www.conservationvolunteers.co.nz.


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