By Jack Van Hal, Delivery Planner Biodiversity
Yesterday (2 February) was World Wetlands Day. To celebrate, we’re putting the spotlight on Whangamarino Wetland in the Waikato.
World Wetlands Day is held every year, on February 2, to mark the signing of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands and the Day provides an opportunity to highlight the important role wetlands play in our environment.
Whangamarino Wetland is one of the largest swamp and peat dome wetland complexes in the country at 7,000 hectares. A Ramsar site since 1989, the wetland is also important to Waikato-Tainui people as recognised in the Waikato River Settlement.
Australasian bittern/matuku, black mudfish and swamp helmet orchid are just some of the threatened species thriving in the wetland. Other species include marsh and spotless crakes, fern birds, dabchicks and various gamebirds, making it a popular spot for game-bird hunting.
However, the wetland faces a number of threats, including excessive inflows of sediment and nutrients from the wider catchment, altered water levels due to the lower Waikato River Flood Scheme, predators, stock trampling and weeds. Despite these threats, large areas of raised peat bog remain in good condition, supporting communities of threatened wetland plants.
DOC has been implementing innovative wetland conservation initiatives at Whangamarino Wetland under the Arawai Kākāriki wetland restoration programme.