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Whangarei is home to some of Northland best wetlands and landowners are being encouraged to look after them in a new Northland Regional Council mailout.
Biodiversity specialist Lisa Forester says 78 landowners of 22 Whangarei wetlands are being contacted by the council to offer them advice and possible funding assistance for fencing and pest control.
Ms Forester says this week’s mailout is part of the regional council’s ‘Northland Top Wetlands’ project, which began in 2009 and had involved ranking the 150 best wetlands in the region.
The landowners involved are a mixture of private, Department of Conservation and Whangarei District Council and other organisations.
“We recognise that many of these wetlands are still in good condition because their owners are already looking after them, but generally the further south you go the fewer wetlands there are so we are really hoping that wetland owners in Whangarei district will want to talk to us.”
Ms Forester – who is leading the top wetlands project for the regional council - says in the past wetlands had covered almost 260,000 hectares of Northland.
“Just 5.5 percent, or about 14,000 ha of those original wetland areas remain, with less than four percent left south of Kaitaia, which means every wetland is special, even the smaller, less significant ones”.
Ms Forester hopes the regional council’s offers of advice and assistance will encourage landowners and help people understand just how important wetlands are to the region.
“These letters will not see a wetland registered against your title or have any additional effect on use of your property, as significant wetlands already have protection under the Resource Management Act and consents from the Northland Regional Council are required to undertake works or clearance which may affect them.”
She says wetlands are an all-too-often under-appreciated and remarkable part of the environment and play a vital role in its wellbeing.
“Apart from providing habitat for birds and plants wetlands do an incredible job of storing water, cleaning sediment and nutrients from runoff and helping to prevent flooding”.
She says landowners of the top wetlands in Kaipara district were contacted last year, with a generally positive response. Whangarei’s mailouts began on Monday, 30 April, while mailouts for the Far North District are scheduled to start in July.
Ms Forester says people interested in learning more about the top wetlands project – or who believe they have received a letter in error – can contact her at the regional council on (0800) 002 004.