Why do we even care? How important are our waterway and wetland habitats anyway and don't they take care of themselves?
With nutrient runoff issues more evident, as well as flood damage, soil erosion and large scale abstractions for irrigation, management of waterways and the habitats they provide is becoming an ever more pressing issue. People expect to be able to swim in the local creek and catch a fish. With less than 10% of our wetlands left, it is becoming increasingly urgent to preserve what is left and develop new areas wherever possible.
Some issues are being tackled by organisations with a specific responsibilities. But water is everywhere and plays an integral part of our biosphere and is effected by many interconnected factors. It is everyone's responsibility to help maintain, enhance and protect waterways and wetlands. This will naturally lead to water improvement.
The Waiau Trust takes a whole catchment approach to water management. It is dedicated to enhancing wetland and waterway habitats and public access to them. The Trust seeks to enhance the Waiau catchment aquatic ecosystem for the future.
Benefits for Fish and Wildlife (some examples)
Long-finned Eel (Anguilla dieffenbachii): This species is endemic to New Zealand. From a conservation perspective it is classified as "at risk, declining". It lives in a diversity of habitats, from lakes, large rivers, lowland streams, local creeks, wetlands and estuaries. The Trust has been fencing streams and wetlands and creating of open water wetland habitats for the benefit of this species.
Inanga (Galaxias maculatus): One of the 5 migratory species of galaxiid which make up the whitebait catch. This small fish lives in lowland streams, rivers and wetlands. It requires good bank and in-stream/wetland vegetation and macrophyte cover for hiding from predators. It also requires undisturbed grasses and native vegetation at the high tide level for spawning, maturing and hatching of eggs during the autumn months. Uninhibited fish passage into, through and out of all habitats is vital, throughout the year. The Trust's fencing of streams and wetlands, the creation of interconnected open water rearing habitats in the lower catchment and removal of grazing stock from the tidal zone all benefit this species.
Paradise Shelduck (Tadorna variegata): Endemic to New Zealand this species is widespread across New Zealand and is an important gamebird species. It has adapted well to NZ's agriculture landscape. The Trust's protection of streams, wetlands and their riparian habitats provide ideal breeding habitats for this species. Creation of open water habitats also provides good habitat for the annual (January to March) moult.
Pied Stilt (Himantopus himamtopus): Native to New Zealand and declining, this species inhabits wetlands, swamps, lakes and esturaies. It feeds on terrestiral insects and worms, but also aquatic insects and larvae in shallow water wetlands and along their shorelines. Creation of open water wetland habitats with fluctuation water levels provides good feeding habitat for this species.