Our newest local staff member, Ranger Dan created a wetland the other week. He breached a stop bank and turned a paddock into a wetland at Athenree Wildlife Refuge.
Well actually, the digger driver breached the stop bank and it’s going to take some time for the water to fill up, but Dan is managing the project and organised it all and it will be a wetland soon.
The paddock is right next to the Waiau River not far upstream from the Tauranga Harbour, near Bowentown. They had to time the breaching of the stop bank carefully around the tidal movements on the day. With low tide at 1315 they had approx 3 hours either side of this time to do the digging and get all the equipment out of the way before the rising tide moved in.
Maurice (Snow) Garde-Brown gifted the 22 hectare low-lying paddock adjacent to the Athenree Wildlife Refuge to DOC in 2006. He had an affinity for the salt marsh and birds that lived there and thought that restoring his paddock into wetland would make it even better – and we agreed.
Since the gifting, our DOC team have spent time talking to the neighbours and working with Environment BOP (our regional council) on planning the restoration project and preparing the paddock. Then finally, last week Dan was able to take the first step towards wetland restoration – letting water in.
As a result of the flooding, the existing grass and weeds will die-off, salt marsh plants will re-establish themselves and the local wildlife will move in. We need help from the local community as this restoration project progresses and will be starting with a planting day during Conservation Week 13-20 September.
The Athenree wetland is a regionally significant haven for some rare native birds, here are photos of some of the local residents as well as Dan’s handiwork.