Did you know that peat wetlands are super carbon sinks? They hold twice as much carbon as all of the world’s forests combined, yet cover only about three per cent of earth’s land surface. New plantings have been installed at the new wetland area to enhance the ecological restoration of the river.
The plants include kukuraho (river bulrush), ponga (silver fern), mamaku (black tree fern) and kiokio (palm leaf fern).
Fish and wildlife habitats restored
Wetlands support great concentrations of bird life and far more species than a similar forest area. The survival of threatened species such as the Australasian bittern, brown teal, fernbird, marsh crake and white heron relies on wetlands that have experienced little disturbance from human activities.
Native fish need wetlands too. Eight of New Zealand's 27 species including inanga, short-finned eels, kokopu and bullies are found in wetlands, while the whitebait fishery depends on the spawning habitat offered by freshwater wetlands.
The decline in native fish populations is directly related to massive reductions in freshwater habitat.
Flood management and climate change resilience by slowing the water flow
Wetlands act as a sponge, absorbing heavy rain and then releasing the water gradually.
This helps to reduce the impacts of flooding, particularly given the increased frequency of heavy rainfall events predicted for the Bay of Plenty as a result of climate change.
During dry spells, a wetland stabilises downstream water flows and ground water levels are also maintained.
Improves water quality
As water moves into a wetland, the flow rate decreases, allowing sediment that has washed downstream to settle out.
The many plant surfaces act as filters, absorbing solids and adding oxygen to the water.
Growing plants remove nutrients and play a cleansing role that protects the downstream environments.