Wetland Restoration

What kinds of native plants should you use for wetland restoration and why?

Choosing the right kind of plants is crucial for wetland restoration. In fact, it is almost always the barometer for a successful restoration. A big part of restoring the natural ecosystem of your wetland has to do with the type plants that you plan to grow.

Wetland restoration is the process of rehabilitating and reestablishing a wetland that has been damaged or destroyed.  It attempts to bring back the wetland to its natural ecosystem. And part of it is choosing the right plant species for the project. 

After identifying the different zones of your wetland (perimeter fence, shallow standing water, deep pond, nesting island), you will now be able to determine what type of plants to use for your restoration.
Determining the right plants for your restoration is one thing, where to get your plants for your riparian planting is another. 

Here are a few tips on where to get the necessary plants for your restoration:

● Use plants that have been locally sourced. Eco-sourced plants from nurseries are suitable plant species for your wetland restoration because they are already adaptable to the conditions of the said environment
● Buy from a reputable wholesaler.  Scour local nurseries from your local area, ask for the right plant species for your wetland restoration.
● Or you can draw your concept plant and place an order with a nursery (your plan will have some adjustments depending on the availability of such plants).
● If it’s a large project, you may want to enter into a contract with a wetland restoration specialist. 
There are a host of restoration schemes for you to choose from when doing your wetland restoration.

Oftentimes it is a choice of using locally sourced plants, using plants from nurseries or propagating your restoration yourself.

You can also choose from a wide variety of plants for your restoration, some of which may have been already in your area. Native plants such as the cabbage tree, the manuka, or even flax are suitable native plants for your restoration. These plants are self-sustaining and can withstand potential threats while providing an extra aesthetic value to your property.

Where should you grow your native plants for your restoration? Your native plants will thrive easily when you plant in:

● Areas with moderate climate. Plant them with minimum exposure to the sun, i.e., after soaking them well.
● In wet areas. Plant them during summer when water level is low and the water warm.
● Warmer coastal areas, especially with fewer frosts.
● Areas where there is enough shade, preferably within two years since the planting started
● On gullies and ridges, only after planting them in line with natural features.
● Areas with correct moisture zone.

Having the right plants for your wetland restoration sustains your property for a longer period of time. You wetland restoration will help

● Improve water quality - With the right restoration process. You can also get the right filtering for your wetland for water purification. In fact, a wetland with a suitable vegetation scheme improves water activity.
● Providing habitat for species - Wetlands attract a considerable host of animal and insect species while providing food and shelter. Increased in animal activity in your wetland will increase soil quality and food production as well.
●Improves property worth and profit - It takes many hands to restore wetlands. Not only does it provide employment to those who help restore its natural ecosystem, it also profits landowners by opening up more economic opportunities (eco-tourism, use of commercially viable native plants, etc).

Needless to say, wetland restoration is no walk in the park. It would be helpful if you seek a professional to do the work for you. Wetland restoration experts can assist you with cost effective design solutions and wetland plant supply.

This is where we at Rural Designs can help. We can help you in planning for your wetland restoration and provide you with cost competitive wetland management implementation services.  With our help, you’re ensures of a successful and effective restoration project.

What Factors Affect Riparian Restoration Success

Riparian restoration is a process of restoring stream banks through weed control, animal pest control and revegetation.  It also involves the fencing out of livestock while planting trees along its stream to create buffer zones.

Streams are integral to the land, so important that New Zealand have undertaken riparian restoration projects in an attempt to reverse land use impact to its waterways.
It takes a considerable amount of time to be able to see the benefits of doing riparian restoration. Riparian restoration is a delicate process and it’s essential to check several key restoration procedures, such as:

● channel instability
● aquatic habitat development
● alleviation of water pollutants
● improvement of aquatic and terrestrial biodiversity

Riparian restoration is a project that most people choose to undertake themselves. But to ensure success, it’s important to be knowledgeable in all aspects of riparian planting; not just in the planning and implementation, but also with monitoring and maintenance.

Common Riparian Restoration Mistakes

Often times, the failure of restoration projects or difficulty in maintaining these projects stem from these common mistakes:

a. Unplanned land activity
Land activity is also crucial in the planning and development of riparian restoration. What happens upstream can affect the results of your riparian restoration downstream. And your restoration efforts can affect the land activity or use of your neighbors downstream. Coordinating with your neighbors on land use is needed to control external factors that could affect the success of your planting and restoration efforts.

b. Improper fencing and buffer system
An effective riparian restoration also involves good fencing to minimize livestock access and the prevent possible contaminants from entering the area. In 2000 alone, New Zealand had assessed nine riparian management schemes to see to it that proper fencing is used for its restoration. The buffer zones of these nine restoration projects had been fenced and has planted the necessary crops for a specific period, from a minimum of 2 years to a maximum of 24.  

c. Weeds not controlled
Weed control is an important aspect in riparian restoration since it reduces competition among plants, reduces cover for pest (particularly meadow voles), and it makes for easy inspection. It also provides pathways for native species to colonize the stream. 
d. Using the wrong plant species
Native plants endemic to streams contribute to biodiversity and creates a sustainable ecosystem for the species that dependent on the area.  In most cases, when the wrong plants are used, they would not thrive. In some cases, they might encourage the growth of invasive plant and animal species which could be detrimental to the riparian system.

Riparian Restoration Monitoring

Landowners should also look into the sustainability when investing in riparian restoration. Professional monitoring and maintenance can help insure this. You should keep in mind certain aspects of the restoration that might prove costly if unplanned or unchecked.

● Check to see if there are enough plants to filter the water - The main reason for riparian restoration is to reinvigorate your streams. The native plants should be able to filter and hold enough water to restore soil viability and create a sustainable ecosystem. Regular weed control is also important to encourage plant growth and prevent the weeds from choking down native trees and bushes. 

● Should provide shade as well - This is a unique benefit for riparian restoration. It provides shade to your streams to shelter insects, fishes and other endemic animals, helping them thrive and minimizing the impact brought about by climate change

● Should provide habitat for land animals - Growing the right plants for your riparian restoration will provide provide shelter to endemic animals while providing them easy access to safe water.

● Check to see if the plants are thriving - Proper fencing and agreements with neighbors and shareholder to protect your plants from stock can help ensure that your You can do your own riparian planting and restoration, but the safest way to do so is with the help of a professional. With the help of a riparian restoration expert, you will be assured of the inherent recreational, environmental and developmental benefits of doing riparian restoration.  They will assist you on how to plan and implement your riparian planting for you to have better waterways as well as a sustainable wetland in the process

Can You Do Revegetation Without Any Planning?

Revegetation refers to the process of replanting and rebuilding a damaged land’s soil, for restoring its former ecosystem. According to the Native Plant Centre in New Zealand, a company specializing in growing New Zealand native plants, revegetation is “to recreate a natural bush environment, where no bush existed before.”

Landowners use revegetation projects for many reasons:

● Resource conservation - refers to the management of natural resources to provide maximum benefit while maintaining the capacity of one’s land for future use.
● Erosion and weed control - the practice of preventing water erosion in agriculture, coastal areas and riverbanks, and the control of weed proliferation within the developed wetlands.
● Preservation of bush remnants - refers to the ecological restoration of remnant vegetation areas with the intention of minimizing weeds and erosion concerns.
● Preventing fertilizer run offs - the process of eliminating fertilizer saturation for the preservation of water while increasing the land’s nutrients.
● Encouraging native birds to settle in the area – an indicator of increasing biodiversity, the birds also help in fertilization and pest control.

Not All Revegetation Projects Have the Same Results

While there are many benefits from this undertaking, not all revegetation projects can turn out as ideal, or at least, executed as planned. Other revegetation projects have not lived up to its intended purpose, and that is, the rehabilitation of one’s land through the planting of native plant species. This was seen in a study conducted by Abigail R. Forbes, and John L. Craig, “Assessing the role of revegetation in achieving restoration goals on Tiritiri Matangi Island” (see attached link). 

The Tiritiri Matangi Island is a part of New Zealand’s extensive project of community-based restoration, focusing on habitat restoration, pest management and threatened species conservation as well as native revegetation.  The study’s goal was to determine whether the project at Tiritiri met  “the restoration goals by providing habitat for indigenous diversity, particularly birds.”  
They argued that although revegetation projects have captured the interest of the international conservation movement, these “initiatives (revegetation) are often conducted in an ad-hoc manner, without clear objectives or monitoring to assess the effectiveness of the chosen approach.”  That despite the efforts made, the project did not meet its desired goals due to lack of planning.

Revegetation Requires Planning and Follow-Through

To undertake a revegetation project without planning is unthinkable. Planting randomly and undermining the inherent structure of the land before a revegetation is not only unwise, it is also a waste of resources. Preserving the remaining native bushes can also be problematic without proper planning.

If you are going to start with your project, you need to consider a number of factors like the local climate, the soil conditions and altitude. In some cases, autumn is the best time for revegetation because it allows your plants to establish more roots; more roots provide a better chance of survival for the plants. In other areas with different environmental condition, different revegetation practices might be needed.

As in the case of spacing when it comes to planting, certain specifications should be followed to maximize the growth and potential of native plants. These specifications usually include:

● 1 metre for groundcovers
● 1-2 metres for small trees, ex. cabbage tree
● 3-10 metres for large trees, ex. pohutukawa
● 1 metre for shrubs, ex.  manuka, flax

Another specification to consider is the use of native and eco-sourced plants. Using plants endemic to your property that have been sourced locally helps ensure survival of the plants and adds to the ecological distinctiveness of your property.

With the help of a revegetation expert, all these specifications are taken into consideration when planning. An expert also takes into consideration possible setbacks like extreme weather, lowering of landscape heterogeneity, loss of biodiversity, and human intervention to minimize their impact.

You can conduct your own revegetation at your own expense and at your own risk, but with a professional, you save time, money, resources, and you’re assured of a certain degree of success. 

We at Rural Design have been doing revegetation services for so many years. We specialize in ecological restoration using eco-sourced plants, wetland and riprarian restoration. Our years of combined expertise, practical knowledge, and holistic approach to restoration has made us to go to firm by local government, farms, and major landowners for their restoration projects. 

We don’t just implement restoration and revegetation, we plan, support and maintain. We take steps to ensure that the projects we undertake are successful to help landowners like you reap the benefits of your revegetation projects.