The Importance of Wetlands

  • Wetlands act like a sponge, they soak up floodwaters and release water to streams during dry spells. This is good for stream life and beneficial for people's assets prone to flood damage.
  • They act like kidneys, purifying contaminants that run off the land. This improves the water quality in streams.
  • Wetlands are a "fountain of life". They are host to a rich biodiversity.

Many wetlands are:

  • critical for maintaining water flow in streams in dry periods
  • maintaining or improving water quality in our rivers. Wetlands work like kidneys to filter sediment and nutrients, help prevent flooding and provide natural water storage to maintain flows during dry periods in your catchment area.
  • habitat for many unique or rare plants and animals and more valuable ecosystem than beech forest because so much has been lost.
  • a point of pride for many people who own them

The Resource Management Act (RMA) requires Council to include provisions for management of wetlands in the Tasman Resource Management Plan (TRMP). These provisions were introduced in 2001 and became operative in 2004. The Tasman District Council is undertaking a project to identify and map all wetlands in the region as part of their requirements under the Resource Management Act and to improve the ability to make good land management decisions. The mapping is initially based on information Council already has, such as aerial and satellite images, and then refined through site visits.

Some commercial agreements rely on Councils to provide information. For example:

Sustainable Dairying Accord requires fencing of significant wetlands and wetlands must be included in Riparian Management Plans (all dairy farms must have by May 2020).
Forest Stewardship Council certification requires proof that forests are managed in a sustainable fashion. Includes managing wetlands and other land of important biodiversity value. Eg Nelson Forests Ltd & Hancock Forest Mgt.

Tasman District has had rules in place for well over a decade to protect wetlands for the purpose of maintaining biodiversity, as well as water flow in catchments and waterways. The vast majority of wetlands have already been physically removed which makes those remaining significant. Council’s identification and mapping exercise will ensure that both landowners and Council will know more precisely where these rules may apply. Unfortunately, about 50 wetlands have been removed in the last decade in the Buller part of Tasman District.