wetland planting

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.

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.