Wetland restoration: adding value to land and water
What is the problem?
Robust techniques were lacking for New Zealand wetland restoration. More than 90% of our pre-settlement wetlands have been lost. Remaining wetlands are steadily degrading through fragmentation, decreasing water supply, eutrophication and weed invasion despite providing significant economic, social and cultural benefits. Wetlands are complex because they are driven by many interacting physical, chemical and biological processes. This complexity helps to explain the gaps in scientific knowledge that have constrained their management and restoration.
How did we approach resolving the problem?
Landcare Research and its research partners NIWA, DOC and the University of Waikato have combined to deliver scientifically-based guidelines, techniques and tools to improve management and guide restoration of wetlands. Publication of our 270-page wetland restoration handbook (Peters & Clarkson 2010) represents the culmination of several years of research. This involved restoration experiments, case studies, and collaboration from wetland partners and the wider community over the course of the programme.
Who has adopted our innovation?
Our wetland restoration handbook is being used by community groups, landowners, and organisations to improve biodiversity outcomes (indigenous flora and fauna, threatened species) and associated ecosystem services (improved water quality and quantity, carbon sequestration). Teaching institutes, e.g. Waikato University, Waiariki Institute of Technology, use the handbook as a prescribed textbook within their ecological restoration courses. Book chapters are available free online.
What impact has this innovation had on adopters?
Wetland restoration and management work is complex and requires the commitment of resources. Use of our handbook is helping to reduce the risk of wastage of resources or failure, as well as to increase biodiversity benefits. For example, successful rehabilitation of impaired ecosystem services will yield substantial economic gains based on the valuation of New Zealand wetlands at NZ$34,184 per hectare per year (Cole & Patterson 1997).
Craig Morley, Academic Advisor, Waiariki Institute of Technology, says: “This book is an extremely valuable resource for my students or indeed anyone wanting to know how to restore a wetland area. I have read several books on wetland restoration but this is the best by far. It is well designed and scripted, with superb photographs. Indeed it is one of the best books I have ever used because it lays things out in practical, simple steps, has a superb layout, uses plenty of local examples, and has an excellent reference section for obtaining further information.”
Cole AO, Patterson MG 1997. The economic value of New Zealand’s biodiversity. Wellington, Ministry for the Environment.
Peters M, Clarkson BR eds 2010. Wetland restoration: a handbook for New Zealand freshwater systems. Lincoln, Manaaki Whenua Press. 273 p.