Wetlands are permanently or intermittently wet areas that support natural ecosystems of plants and animals. They can include bogs, swamps, fens, shallow water and salt marshes, and are found from the coast to the high country.
90% of New Zealand’s wetlands have been cleared and drained in the last 150 years, however an increasing number of land owners are now seeing the value in restoring these unique landscape features.
What’s so special about wetlands?
Wetlands are important environmental filters, often described as the kidneys of the landscape. They are also important for biodiversity by supporting a variety of native birds, fish, invertebrates, and plants.
Wetlands can improve water quality by:
- Filtering sediment and nutrients
- Removing soluble nitrogen from runoff and resurfacing groundwater. In some soils, managed wetlands are the most effective solution to reducing the amount of nitrogen reaching waterways. Too much nitrogen in the water can cause nuisance plant/algae growth, which affects ecosystems and water quality.
Wetlands are also valuable for Otago’s environment because they:
- Improve local biodiversity by providing a habitat for fish, birds and insects
- Reduce flood peaks by slowing the water flow
- Retain summer water flows by releasing water slowly
- Have both recreational and educational value
What is happening to restore and protect our wetlands?
Riparian planting of natives is under way at select wetland locations around the district in conjunction with Te Kākano. Building of the Te Ara Wānaka walkway and wetland restoration through Stage 3 of the Wānaka Lakefront Development Plan will commence soon.