By Jane Wheeler, Community Ranger
How do we turn more than 50 years of degradation around and restore a huge murky weed-infested lake to its glory days?
A good question to ponder on World Wetlands Day 2020.
Well, it’s not going to happen overnight, but a restoration plan, involving all the lake’s users – including the farming community – aims to make a difference to the diverse flora and fauna supported by Lake Whangape, the second largest lake in the lower Waikato river.
Surrounded by farmland, and still very picturesque, the often toxic Lake Whangape used to be a clear water source and a formidable food resource for many generations of Māori.
As is often the case, working together, pooling knowledge, skills and resources, is part of the solution. The Department of Conservation, Waikato Regional Council and Waikato Tainui are committed to working together and with the local community to address the environmental problems. The project has financial support from Waikato River Authority and the Ministry for the Environment through the Government’s Freshwater Improvement Fund.
There are multiple issues to address and the Lake Whangape Restoration Project intends to tackle them with:
• Funding for fencing to keep stock out
• Controlling alligator weed
• Revegetating the lake’s shoreline with a plan to plant 53,000 plants
• 8 nutrient mitigation projects (like silt traps, wetlands, erosion control planting)
• Developing a kaitiaki monitoring framework and implementing cultural monitoring
During Conservation Week 2019 Lake Whangape had hundreds of helping hands from local school children. The 5,000 plants which went in the ground were a great start to the project, as is the steady progress of fencing by local farmers who are pledging their support for the restoration work and getting behind the project.
Find out more about the Lake Whangape wetlands restoration and how you can help on the DOC website.