Swamps, marshes and bogs may not be glamorous but for some of our most unique native species they’re the perfect home.
Last week’s World Wetlands Day celebrated the major role wetlands play in our environment. Often called the ‘Earth’s kidneys’, their functions include storing carbon, capturing sediment and runoff, removing nitrogen and reducing flooding.
Their other major benefit is the role they play in increasing biodiversity.
While it’s estimated just 8.4% of Taranaki’s original wetlands remain, we’ve managed to slow that decline over the last decade. The Council and dedicated landowners have helped restore and protect more than 100 wetlands in the last five years, with many recognised as Key Native Ecosystems. More than half of these (about 43 hectares) have been legally protected as a result of this mahi.
These wetlands support a diverse array of plants and animals, some of them rare and threatened. Many species have become so adapted to the wet, they simply can’t survive anywhere else.
One of these is the Australasian bittern (Botaurus poiciloptilus), which is classified as ‘Threatened-Nationally Critical’ in New Zealand. We have records of bittern at 39 wetland areas across the region, and are continuing to identify potential habitat and breeding locations.
The brown mudfish (Neochanna apoda) can be found in South Taranaki, particularly around large peat swamps in the Ngaere and Eltham areas. They’re a quirky wee fish - in summer when the wetlands dry up they bury into the mud and wait for autumn rain!
The Syzygium maire or swamp maire tree used to be plentiful across Taranaki but suffered as swamps were drained. Luckily there are still populations around the region, which we hope will thrive as wetlands are restored.
If you have a wetland on your property and would like advice on how to protect or restore it, get in touch with us.