Archives For wetlands

Our wetlands act like the kidneys of the earth, they are also home to unique wildlife and plants. The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands is an international treaty focusing on the conservation of our wetlands.

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It’s World Wetlands Day. Jack van Hal takes us behind the scenes of a research programme underway to learn more about the conservation needs of the Australasian bittern/matuku. 

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Today’s photo is a sunset shot from Ahuriri Estuary situated north of Napier in the sunny Hawke’s Bay.

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To celebrate World Wetlands Day DOC’s Jackie van Hal reflects on the status of New Zealand’s protected wetland areas.

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Wetlands are New Zealand’s shy places, so you need patience to photograph them well. DOC’s Des Williams explains…

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By Emily Funnell, Technical Advisor – Aquatic and Reporting Unit

Earlier this year we carried out a survey in some of the ponds and bog tarns in Southland’s Waituna catchment.

This work was undertaken as part of DOC’s Arawai Kakariki wetland restoration programme in the Awarua-Waituna Wetlands.

Waituna wetlands sign. Photo: itravelNZ | CC BY 2.0.

Waituna Wetlands

We have always known that giant kōkopu, kōura/freshwater crayfish and other species can be found lurking in in the tarns and ponds, but we have never known how extensive their habitat was.

Freshwater crayfish/kōura.

Freshwater crayfish/kōura

In April we had a peek in a number of ponds all around the catchment, many on public conservation land, but also a few on private land.

Surveying for freshwater fish at Munroe Dam.

Surveying in the Munroe Dam

I would like to be able to say that we found these waterways teeming with fish, but unfortunately only a couple of sites fitted this description.

Giant kōkopu. Photo: Andy Hicks.

Giant kōkopu in the Waituna catchment

Giant kōkopu and other freshwater species were largely absent from most of the catchment ponds, except at the Munroe Dam and in the tarns on the southern side of the lagoon. These two sites had more giant kōkopu than we could shake a stick at, and with a good range of sizes.

Giant kōkopu. Photo: Andy Hicks.

Giant kōkopu

Unfortunately, the ponds and tarns around Carran Creek, and those to the west of Waituna Creek, were all devoid of freshwater fish. This indicates that we may have been overestimating the use of these habitats by fish—with fewer populations than we thought.

Network of bog tarns at Waituna Lagoon.

Network of bog tarns at Waituna Lagoon

So, what is the value of this information? We now know where the secure populations of giant kōkopu are in the catchment, so we can carry out more focussed investigations and management.

Cicada. Photo: Andy Hicks.

Cicada at Waituna

The beauty of these sites is that there are few threats to them in their isolated locations. With little habitat change, we anticipate that these populations will be around for a long time.

This week’s photo shows Waituna Lagoon—the location of a recent community open day marking the first year of DOC’s partnership with Fonterra.

Waituna Lagoon, Southland, New Zealand.

The natural habitat at Awarua-Waituna, including the 1350 hectare Waituna Lagoon, is one of five key areas that DOC and Fonterra are working together to improve over the next ten years.

The open day was a chance for the local community to see the work being undertaken at Waituna by Fonterra and DOC, in conjunction with Ngai Tahu, the Southland District Council and Environment Southland.

“In the first year our focus has been on monitoring and science. We’ve got to get this right to ensure the whole project sets off in the right direction and can make a real difference,” said Fonterra Living Water Project Manager, Nicola Toki.