What better occasion then World Wetlands Day (WWD) Wednesday 2 February to think about the importance of wetlands and forests. You can find out more about them by attending a screening in Gisborne of the film “Water Whisperers Tangaroa” and getting involved with a working bee at Sisterson Lagoon to celebrate the day.
WWD is also significant because it launches a year-long campaign to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Ramsar convention and the United Nations has declared 2011 the International Year of Forests says Department of Conservation (DOC), Ranger, Biodiversity Assets Don McLean.
“With the theme being wetlands and forests, people sometimes forget that trees are often an important part of New Zealand wetlands. Wetlands are more than just rushes and sedges they often have trees as part of the system.”
Riparian forests are found along or around rivers, streams and lakes. They have significant water-protection functions including stabilising banks, thus minimising erosion; trapping sediment before it enters the water body and removing harmful nutrients from farmland.
All East Coast wetlands have been significantly degraded so they no longer resemble their natural state. DOC, landowners and community groups are aiming to restore wetlands at Wherowhero Lagoon, Sisterson’s Lagoon, Orongo at Young Nicks Head Station, Motu Scenic Reserve and Tarau Valley.
WWD events on 2 February include a screening of “Water Whisperers Tangaroa” which explores the work of ten communities seeking to heal damaged waterways. Screening starts 6pm at the Tairawhiti Environment Centre, 50 Roebuck Road, cost is $10 per person. Women’s Native Tree Project Trust and Tairawhiti Environment Centre have organised a weeding working bee at Sisterson’s Lagoon 9.30-11.30am. Anyone interested meet at the lagoon McDonalds Road.
World Wetlands Day marks the date of the signing of the Convention on Wetlands on 2 February 1971. Originally created to preserve wetlands as a vital habitat for waterfowl, the Ramsar Convention has inspired advances over the past 40 years in the conservation and wise use of all wetlands.