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The benefits of protecting New Zealand’s wetlands

Updated: Feb 20

Wetlands are an integral part of our country. Not only are they beautiful and a rich part of New Zealand’s history, but they perform many important roles also. Unfortunately, modern life can negatively affect our wetlands, through pollution, development and agriculture.

We believe our Wetlands are truly an asset and that is why we need to protect them. So, we have put together a list of our 10 top reasons why they need protection…

Why we should protect our wetlands

  1. History: many of our wetland areas are iconic parts of New Zealand. They have been well loved and well used by many generations. It would be a shame if future generations were not able to appreciate their beautiful and historical significance.

  2. Improved water quality: wetlands have a unique way of improving water quality. As the water moves in, its flow rate decreases and allows pollutant particles to settle out. The plants that reside in the areas act as a filter, pulling out the solids and returning oxygen to the water. This cleansing process protects the environments downstream.

  3. Flood control: when it comes to flooding, these areas act like a bit of a sponge. They absorb the higher water levels and release the excess water slowly back into the ecosystem. They are actually more effective at controlling floods than floodwalls or sandbags.

  4. Native plants: some of our native plants rely completely on wetland environments to survive. If the wetlands are not protected, then these plant species could be lost also. Some of these species are already endangered and are extremely vulnerable to a change in their environments.

  5. Native wildlife: surprisingly, wetlands support a larger species of bird life than the surrounding forest areas. They also support a large number of native fish, 8 out of the 27 species in fact. The whitebait industry relies on freshwater wetlands to provide a spawning habitat. As you can see, many species require these valuable wet areas.

  6. Recreation and education: whether you are boating, fishing, white-baiting, bird watching, swimming, kayaking, or any number of other water related activities, the wetlands are the place to be. There are also lots of great educational aspects - things to see, places to explore, species to observe. Not to mention the tourism opportunities, visitors flock to our shores to see these unique habitats.

  7. Weather buffer: wetlands can protect other areas of land from rough weather conditions like storms or high winds. Mangroves significantly reduce the impact that the weather can have, slowing storm and wind speeds by almost 100%!

  8. Negating sea level rises: due to global warming, melting icebergs and the thermal expansion of the oceans are causing sea levels to rise. As a result, the chances of flooding in some areas rises with the sea level. Wetlands provide a critical buffer for coastal land, to negate the waters brought in by the rising tides.

  9. Carbon power! the degradation of wetland areas releases centuries of built up carbon into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide. As we know, excessive carbon dioxide is one of the contributing factors to climate change. On the flipside, if we can preserve these areas, the soils found there can absorb and store carbon for hundreds of years - removing the potentially harmful effects from the atmosphere.

  10. Heritage: the wetlands provided many things that early Maori settlers were reliant on - flax for clothing, mats and rope, raupo for thatching buildings, and dried moss for bedding. It was also a great source of food as many fish, eels and birds were found there. Not to mention an excellent means of travel by waka. Protecting the wetlands is protecting our heritage.


Did you know that in Auckland you can possibly subdivide your rural site by protecting a high-quality wetland area? For further information give our friendly team a call on 427 9966.

Disclaimer As with all our blogs, the information detailed here is general in nature and meant as a preliminary guide only. This should not be substituted for your own investigations or use of your own professional’s. Planning Plus is not liable for any errors or omissions.

© Planning Plus Ltd 2024

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