Lake Whatumā Restoration project coordinator John Cheyne checking bird sites
Image: DOC

Archived content: This media release was accurate on the date of publication. 


Central Hawke’s Bay’s Lake Whatumā Wetland Care Group has secured $25,000 from DOC to continue their critical restoration work.

Date:  22 December 2017

This project is one of 112 conservation projects to be awarded $4.2 million from the most recent funding round of the DOC Community Fund.

Lake Whatumā Restoration project coordinator John Cheyne says the group is extremely grateful for the support from so many stakeholders, including DOC.

He says with 96 percent of the Bay's freshwater wetlands lost to drainage and land development, it made Lake Whatumā even more significant both ecologically and culturally.

"It is home to fish, plants and birds such as the nationally critical Australasian bittern, also known as the matuku," says Mr Cheyne.

"However, those remaining wetlands, like Lake Whatumā, are still subject to a suite of threats which require addressing if we are to have any chance of protecting what remains."

Currently the major threats to the lake are the invasion of exotic willows, mammalian predators – such as mustelids, feral cats, possums, hedgehogs and rats -- and low summer water levels.

To address these problems, Mr Cheyne and 40 other volunteers will be working on the preparation of a willow control plan, a review of current predator control operations, and an assessment of options to improve summer water levels.

"The vision of the group is the restoration of a vibrant shallow lake and wetland ecosystems which can be enjoyed by all," he says.

Local DOC Operations Manager Connie Norgate says the work that the Care Group is doing is critical to ensuring the growth of the matuku population.

"The DOC Community Fund is directed at practical on-the-ground projects such as the work being undertaken by the Lake Whatumā Wetland Care Group, which maintains and restores the diversity of our native plants and wildlife," she says.

"This year's priorities were projects to control the invasive weeds threatening our ecosystems and wildlife, and projects to tackle the introduced predators that destroy our unique birdlife.

"Weeds such as the grey willow and crack willow and mammalian predators are a constant threat to our native species which rely on the lake for survival."

Ms Norgate says by directly supporting community organisations the public will see more conservation work being done, more New Zealanders active in the outdoors and more people aware of the Bay's unique conservation challenges.

The Community Fund projects were announced by Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage earlier this month.

Minister Sage says the fund is designed to provide community conservation and recreation groups with an all-important financial boost.

"To reach their goals for protecting native wildlife, restoring vital habitat and improving access to New Zealand's outdoors," she says.


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