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The University of Otago’s Canoe Club is to take to the water to control invasive weeds in a 315ha privately-owned wetland on the Taieri Plain.

Date:  11 September 2013

The University of Otago’s Canoe Club is to take to the water to control invasive weeds in a 315ha privately-owned wetland on the Taieri Plain.

Glen Riley, Sinclair Wetlands Co-ordinator, has arranged for the Canoe Club to help with controlling willows, gorse and wilding pines in the wetland as he says, “The canoe club members have a unique ability to access islands and other hard-to-reach areas of the wetlands, as well as the enthusiasm to control these invasive weeds”.

Wetlands offer a wide range of environmental benefits, such as storing carbon, providing habitat for a range of native plants and animals, and filtering sediment and nutrients out of waterways. They help maintain the flow of clean water that kayakers rely on, and this is a great opportunity for kayakers to give something back as well as have a fun day out.

The workday is on this Saturday, 14th September, and Glen hopes that at least 10 keen kayakers will turn up. They will use saws or loppers to cut the weeds off near ground level, and apply herbicide gel to the stumps to stop them from resprouting.

This will be the first time a fleet of kayakers have been involved in weed control in the wetlands, and Glen says their ability to target small plants that have regrown since the last weed-control operation will be crucial in keeping the wetland free of weeds.

“Getting these weeds while they’re small and before they form dense patches will minimise the need for aerial spraying in the future. This means that we can avoid damaging non-target plants and so this work really benefits the environment as well as being safe for the volunteers.”

Without this control weeds such as willows, pines, and gorse would spread over the wetland and form a dense cover, displacing the native wetland plants and animals that are currently present.

After the day of weed control, club members are having a barbeque and staying overnight at the wetlands centre, before paddling the Taieri and Waipori Rivers the next day.


The Sinclair Wetlands are between Lakes Waihola and Waipori on the Taieri Plain. They were named after Horace Sinclair, who bought the property in 1960 and placed a QEII covenant over them to ensure they remained protected. It is now owned by Te Runanga O Ngai Tahu, and has walking tracks and an information centre that is open to the public. Over 60 species of birds have been recorded from the wetlands, which are also home to up to 12 species of native fish.

Glen and the Canoe Club’s work is taking place during the Department of Conservation’s Conservation Week 2013 (8–15 September). The theme of the week is ‘What’s your whānau doing?’ and it focuses on encouraging young people and families from all walks of life to get involved in conservation and find out how they can help protect and enjoy our natural environment.

“Conservation Week is all about celebrating the connection we have with our special places, plants and animals. It’s fun, free and easy—and can open up a whole new group of people towards the benefits of conservation” says Glen.

“The pledge activity we’ve chosen shows people that it’s easy to celebrate Conservation Week, and that getting involved in conservation with family and friends is actually fun as well”.

The Conservation Week website has heaps of activity ideas for getting out and about, and resources like themed Facebook cover images, quizzes, colouring in sheets and other printable activities.


Glen Riley
Sinclair Wetlands Coordinator
+64 27 424 0224

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