The Awarua Waituna Community Advisory Groups’ (AWAG) initiative to improve water quality in their local wetlands catchment through riparian fencing has been well received.
Nearly 50km of fencing, subsidised through the Arawai Kakariki project, has either been completed or is underway.
Awarua Waituna Wetland
DOC project manager for the Awarua Waituna Wetlands Sally Chesterfield said riparian fences were not only a critical conservation tool in the protection of waterways from stock, but they also assisted farmers with farm conservation practices and stock management and security.
“The ongoing health of this unique ecosystem is reliant on the water quality received from the surrounding catchment and the community driven promotion of riparian fencing is a significant step towards improving water quality”, Miss Chesterfield said.
Each year on the 2nd of February, World Wetlands Day is celebrated across the globe. The date marks the adoption of the 1971 Convention on Wetlands, held in the Iranian city of Ramsar.
The theme for this year’s World Wetlands Day - Upstream-Downstream: Wetlands connect us all is designed around wetlands and river basin management and the role our wetlands play in their surrounding environments.
Miss Chesterfield said the theme fits nicely with Southland, home to New Zealand’s largest wetland complex - the Awarua Waituna Wetlands, as having good quality fences benefits both upstream and downstream.
“This project will serve to reduce the direct impacts of stock on water quality of waterways both on DOC and privately owned land,” she said.
Fencing is for waterways that flow directly into the wetlands and will benefit water quality. Where there is potential for a fence on private land, the landowners had been notified of the project which also offers farmers a subsidy towards the fencing costs.
“We have sought to create a partnership with farmers enabling them to erect riparian fences that will benefit the wetland ecosystem. However, we appreciate that fencing these areas can be expensive so it has been beneficial to the project to be able to provide financial assistant to those farmers,” Miss Chesterfield said.
It is expected that the Awarua Waituna Wetlands riparian fencing project will be ongoing with funding still available to assist with further fencing.