wetland management

The Basic Processes of Wetland Restoration

Wetland restoration is a process of rehabilitating a degraded or destroyed wetland. Other than rehabilitation, wetland restoration refers to its enhancement as well. So a wetland is not only rehabilitated but enhanced.  
Since it is a process, there are things that you need to do before starting your wetland restoration project.  

Before you start restoring your wetland, you need to consult your neighbors, and if possible, get advice from organizations dealing with wetland restoration.

Then, gather information on landscaping and land consent use. After which, you need to define your project goals. Only after defining your project goals that you start drawing a concept plan.

The parameters of the concept plan include:

● Wetland layout
● Planting patterns/zones
● Pre-existing features
● Location of specific areas such as ponds, bird hides and bunds

Immediately after drawing the plan, you can start identifying the areas with markers for planting and fencing.

It takes careful planning also in preparing your property for the restoration. There are the steps you need to undertake in order to prepare your property:

- Identify the weed infestations
- Keep track of the weeds just outside your wetland that has the potential to re-infest it (ex. large grey willow)
- Determine or prioritize where to start. If possible consult an expert of plant pest, including weed control strategy and advices of methods
- Use weed control measures if the infestation is heavy
- Spray the grass one month before planting
 
After clearing out your wetland with those weeds, start determining what, where and how many plants needed in the restoration, including where to scout plants for your restoration.
 
It is best to consult with experts on what type of plants to use, where to plant it, and how many plants needed. Wetland restoration experts such as Rural Design can assist landowners in their concept plan and in the planting implementation to ensure wetland sustainability.
 
Professional help is indispensable in a variety of ways as they provide:
 
● cost effective design and solutions for your type of restoration
● funds through organization intervention
● wetland management and implementation procedures
● facilitate in land resource consent processes
● advice from experts (surveyors, planners, ecologists)

You can even provide extra native wildlife in your restoration. You can provide logs and trees for those birds, as well as banks for its shelter and for perching sites. For fishes, you can plant flax and sedges in it, thus, providing a shelter while keeping the water cool and clean.

After doing the necessary restoration, get a covenant for your site. Secure this to ensure the protection of the restored wetland areas despite changes in ownership and control.  

Then check the progress of your restoration. Maintain a system for your weed and pest control. As much as possible, keep track of its progress by recording it so you know what works and how effective the planting and restoration done on your wetland.

The Importance of Wetland Restoration

What Are Wetlands?

Merriam Webster defines wetlands as land or areas (as marshes or swamps) that are covered often intermittently with shallow water or have soil saturated with moisture. Wetlands can be found either inland or close to the shore and serve a wide variety of functions:

- They usually trap sediments and soils, 
- Filter the land’s nutrients
- Remove contaminants
- Protects lands from from storm surge
- Bring nitrogen to the atmosphere.

There are four major types of wetlands, namely, bogs, coastal wetlands, swamps and lakes or ponds. 

● Bogs - They are rare bodies of wetlands and are usually fed by rainfall. Bogs are low on fertility and acidic in nature, but they house a variety of native plants, especially the sphagnum moss. Bogs also support other plants such as umbrella ferns, sedges and the manuka.  

● Coastal Wetlands- Commonly called estuaries, they are considered the most productive among the wetland types since they are rich in animal life. Most fisheries depend on estuaries as spawning or breeding grounds of fishes. 

● Swamps - Most wetlands situated on a private lands are called swamps. They are considered more fertile than bogs because they bring silt and some organic matter through their water. Their water level fluctuates from time to time. Plants found in a swamp usually include purei, raupo and flax. Through these plants, a vast aquatic invertebrates live the area such as snails and frogs. 

● Lakes and ponds - Wetlands with shallow margins and surrounded with vegetation to provide habitats for the animal species. Lakes are permanent freshwater wetlands. Ponds are small bodies of still water, formed at times by hollowing or embanking.

Why Wetland Restoration Is Important

Wetlands support and sustain a significant number of animal species. In fact, 22% of native birds found in New Zealand live within these wetlands. Not only that, many of the commercially important freshwater fishes in the country also live within these wetlands. Wetlands also house birds, insects and other species that help maintain the ecological balance, encouraging biodiversity. And since most animals in New Zealand can’t be found anywhere else in the world, conservation and restoration is vital. Some of the species that can thrive and are protected by wetlands include:

● Spotless crake - they usually nestle in shallow wetlands and among sheltering sedges with the manukas.
● Fernbird - they can be found on dense shrubs and small trees like the manukas.
● Pied stilt - they feed on worms that are usually found in wetlands while they nest of some clumps of rushes.
● Scaup - usually found on deep, clear swamps
● Mallard - of the popular birds living on wetlands, they usually prefer shallow waters on the edge of a pond
● Dabchick - they can be found on floating rafts of vegetation. 

Wetlands will save also protected plant species in the process. The process of wetland restoration primarily the revegetation of native species. But once these plants thrive, other indigenous and commercially viable plants will start to thrive. Just some of the plants that can be saved by wetland restoration include: 

● Kamaru - has quick cover, prevents and controls erosion, and can used as nurse crop. 
● Manuka - hardy pioneer is fast-growing, and can grow on different types of soil.
● Kahikatea - slow-growing but they grow into large trees and produces fruits
● Toetoe - can grow even on poor soil, although they are suitable for damp and dry soils
● Harakeke (flax) - can withstand five centimeters of water. Harakeke splits into small fans and is unpalatable to possums.
● mTi kouka - can tolerate wet and dry soils and is hardy, controls erosion also.
● Lake Clubrush - blooms in fertile water (0.8 metres deep), can withstand salt water. Wildlife shelter for most animal species.
● Purei - grows in shallow water, dry soil and boggy margins, and is nesting areas for birds.

Why Invest In Wetland Restoration

Investing in wetland restoration offers numerous benefits. The national and local government provides strong support, and at time funding, for wetland restoration projects. Resource application consents for these projects are often given priority, if they involve the use of economically viable or protected species or if the property would be used for research.

Wetland restoration also offers more long term ecological benefits for the land as well. Wetland restoration eventually minimizes the risk of flood. Properties with wetlands do not run the risk of any surge and at times they help contain it protecting neighboring properties.

Restoration also improves the water quality. Wetland plants sift contaminants helping to protect the water table. It can even serve as an alternative irrigation source if the wetland is large enough. 

All in all, the benefits of wetland restoration outweigh the costs. It’s a cost effective way to help reestablish ecological balance for a piece of property while providing more economic opportunities through the protection and cultivation of commercially viable species.

How Developing Wetlands Help

Wetlands prove their importance as living habitats of many creatures. Apart from their environmental importance, they also have their agricultural and recreational purposes. They help prevent floods, purify water and more. These natural bodies of water are miracle workers and they greatly help the environment they are situated in.

The problem is the fact that these bodies of water are becoming extinct. They are dying. Human activities have caused such a thing to happen. Without wetlands, flooding has become frequent, living for animals has become difficult, and crops are no longer available. These all affect us—our livelihood, our homes and even our survival. That is why a call for wetland restoration is required.

One should understand the benefits of wetland restoration to be able to appreciate it. These benefits are:

Land value increase. 

Wetlands can be used to fulfill requirements for land development like subdivisions. One can earn another title from half a hectare of wetland depending on where you live. There are also matters on when not using wetlands.

For ecological protection and development, all subdivision plans should present features such as wetlands. Assessment must be provided for the presence of such waters. To further give effect to ecological restoration, the local council gives conditional consent for these subdivisions depending on the assessment. Once the subdivision consent is granted, developers should carry out the conditions provided by the council. After that, they can finally issue two new title certificates from the additional site from subdivision.

Good business investment. 

Wetland conservation can become a profitable business for anyone. Wetlands are natural pieces of art. Local and foreign visitors would like to come take a look at it for themselves. That is why, establishing a business near or making a business out of the wetlands is a great idea. It would be best, however, to create a business out of the wetland's naturalness. Modifications might not be helped in its development, but try to keep it small.

Pure water resources. 

Another wonder that a wetland does is creating pure drinking water. Profit can be made when this idea can be systematically conceptualized. And since the process of purification is regularly done, business can happen long-term.

Reduces cost. 

Since wetlands have the ability to sponge up running water from land, they can reduce floods. These also help in lessening dam construction, which costs the government a lot of money to do. Wetland development not only benefits the developer (or landowner) but also those living nearby. 

Helps restore the ecosystem.

Ecological restoration becomes part of wetland restoration. When wetlands are preserved, the vegetation around the wetland is nourished. These vegetations in turn prevent soil erosion. Other ecological components that are saved by this restoration are animal habitats.

Livable habitat. 

Wetlands are able to nurture the surroundings and thus build a livable habitat. Water creatures thrive in these bodies of waters while land creatures live around it. Land animals maximize the wetlands with the food and shelter it provides. The presence of these animals are more or less in the interest of many public and private sectors. Thus having them survive is a role we take in wetland management.

Migratory animals also take shelter in these places. Together with their arrival, they bring about pollination and species reproduction. These then help in the survival of both plant and animal survival.

Crop and pastoral resource. 

Farmers can benefit in using wetlands for their crops and animals. These resources will help keep their crops moist and their animals fed. It would be much easier to say that wetlands would not have them cost a thing, actually.

Know that you are not alone in this endeavor. There are organizations and businesses that specialize in wetland restoration like RuralDesign. We can help you with your wetland management needs.