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World class wetland protected in Horowhenua

World class wetland protected in Horowhenua

The Horowhenua Branch of Forest and Bird and the Manawatu Estuary Trust are delighted that the Manawatu River Estuary has been accorded international status as a Wetland of Significance, the sixth such site in New Zealand.

Chairwoman Joan Leckie says she’s confident everyone in the region will be very pleased with the news that the Estuary has been listed under the RAMSAR Convention, a global treaty on wetland protection.

“Internationally people are more familiar with RAMSAR sites than we are here in New Zealand, and tourists will now know that the Manawatu Estuary is a significant area to visit. There are currently 1459 RAMSAR Sites throughout the world, in 129 countries. Foxton is already a successful tourist town, and the new Manawatu Estuary designation will add to its attractions and benefit the local economy.”

“Wetlands perform very valuable ecological functions. They are the kidneys of our waterways, cleansing and purifying the waters. They provide food in the form of a vast array of insects and invertebrates for a wide range of birds, many of which are endangered in New Zealand. Wetlands provide space for the rivers to spread out in times of flood, helping to prevent erosion. Over 90% of our wetlands have been drained to create farmland in this country which makes the remaining ones more precious. Wetlands are also among the most beautiful places on earth.”

Mrs Leckie said the RAMSAR status allows this wetland to be valued and protected but still used wisely for recreation by all the different groups which enjoy the estuary: the bird watchers, the boaties, the fishermen, and those taking their daily exercise. The Estuary’s special international status must now be reflected in the local bylaws. It is envisioned that all local people would recognise that it is a treasure and help to look after it. A big event is planned in Horowhenua for March 2006 to celebrate this wonderful wetland.

“Special thanks go to the Department of Conservation, Horowhenua District Council, Horizons Regional Council, Darren Hughes MP for Otaki, iwi, farmers and local people, for their help and support of the project over the past three years.”

“The challenge now is to manage the estuary sustainably and maintain its natural state. There are few other remaining wetlands of this size and quality in this part of the North Island. We need to ensure it remains intact for future generations.”

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