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Wetland covenants: Improving wetland condition

A benefit of covenant protection

Strong regeneration in Southland

Since Warrick Day protected a 6ha gully wetland near Winton under a QEII covenant in 1994, a marked change in vegetation has occurred with a shift from red tussock to flax and coprosma and cabbage trees.

With a natural progression for the regeneration, the end phase will most probably be podocarp forest.

‘This shows quite graphically what can be recreated and what landowners can do with their gully systems with best management practices to remove sediment and nutrients out of the waterways,’ says Gay Munro, QEII Southland Rep.

Photo below: An aerial shot before the wetland (the area south of the pine forest) was protected under a QEII covenant in 1994. At that time the vegetation was dominated by red tussock.

The Days' wetland before protection

Photo below: The Day’s wetland in 2007 with regenerating flax and emerging cabbage trees. The pond is well used by waterfowl and fernbirds populate the surrounding vegetation. Photo: Chris Morison

The Days' wetland in 2007

Rare lizard protected in Taranaki

A restoration project on a 1.8ha wetland at Toko near Stratford has received an environmental award from the Taranaki Regional Council for sustainable farming and commitment to improving biodiversity.

In the surrounding dairy farmland, most wetlands have been cleared and drained. The restored wetland, protected under an open space covenant by the Marleigh Farms Partnership, is a habitat for the striped skink which has a Category A priority for conservation action under the Department of Conservation's species ranking system.

Fewer than 120 have ever been found and the covenant may be the first confirmed protected site.

Below: The striped skink Oligosoma striatum is one of New Zealand's least known and rarely seen lizards. It has pale stripes running down the length of its body and lightening quick movements. Photo: Dean Caskey, Crown Copyright, Department of Conservation 2002

Striped skink
Volunteers improve biodiversity at Pauatahanui

Community volunteers are a key to the rich biodiversity of the saltmarsh and associated swamp at Pauatahanui Inlet near Wellington.

The Pauatahanui Wildlife Management Committee, operating under the Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society, manages the project to restore the wetland and improve the habitat for wading birds.

In 1985, the Society purchased 1.8ha to give access to the reserve. This area is protected under a QEII covenant.

Wanda Tate who works on the extensive restoration planting programme says the aim is to put in 5,000 plants this year. All plants are eco-sourced with seeds collected from the wetland and germinated at the homes of volunteers. They’re then taken to the group’s nursery for potting and growing on.

The restored habitat together with pest control has encouraged birds such as royal spoonbills and pied stilts to return to the inlet. ’This is fantastic restoration work, all done by volunteers,’ says Robyn Smith, QEII Wellington Rep.

Below: Robin Chesterfield, a volunteer with the Pauatahanui Wildlife Management Committee, plants saltmarsh ribbonwood Plagianthus divaricatus. Photo: David Cornick

Pauatahanui volunteer
Below: Royal spoonbills Platalea regia are returning to Pauatahanui. Photo: Robyn Smith

Spoonbills at Pauatahanui

Winning the war on weeds on the Kapiti Coast

Eight years ago, Adrienne and Peter Dale purchased their Pateke Lagoons property which has an 11ha wetland covenant dominated by harakeke (swamp flax).

‘The wetland was almost completely covered by blackberry up to six metres high and rampant pohuehue (Muehlenbeckia australis) was smothering young totara and wheki, the swamp tree fern,’ recalls Adrienne.

Although pohuehue is a native, it may need controlling where it is overwhelming regenerating vegetation.

The Dales cleared much of the infestation by hand. Then with support from the Greater Wellington Regional Council and QEII they undertook an extensive spraying programme.

‘The help has been fabulous,’ says Adrienne. ‘Since the weeds have been cleared, the flax, mamaku and cabbage trees have had a new lease of life and birdlife is proliferating.’

For more on the Dale’s weedbusting efforts visit

Below: 2003 - Peter Dale amongst blackberry in the Pateke Lagoons wetland covenant.

Pateke Lagoons in 2003

Below: 2007 - the restored wetland at Pateke Lagoons. Photo: Loralee Hyde

Pateke Lagoons in 2007

Open SpaceTM Magazine, No. 70, July 2007 © QEII National Trust

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