Wetland mapping on Mt Fyffe Farm reveals rare species
Recent mapping of a wetland on Mt Fyffe Farm has revealed unique plant species not seen anywhere else in the district.
The mānuka-dominant wetland hosts native vegetation including ‘harakeke’ and ‘purei (sedges)’, and ‘swamp astelia’ which is uncommon on New Zealand’s East Coast.
It was first surveyed earlier in the year and then mapped and recorded to capture its true area and ecological value.
Wetland protection a joint father and son effort
The farm, owned and managed by the Richardson family, is the latest wetland in Kaikōura to receive Immediate Steps Biodiversity funding, following a recommendation by the Kaikōura Water Zone Committee.
Up to $18,000 will be used to fence around 1.9 hectares of wetland.
Landowner Phil Richardson said fencing the area off tidies it up and helps protect its uniqueness.
“It does its job; water collects there and then flows into Goldmine Creek. It is a no brainer to protect it really.”
Planting and seeding the wetland edges, plus weed and predator control, will also help contribute to creating a booming biodiversity hotspot on the farm.
Phil manages the sheep and beef farm with his son, Josh. Both were keen to protect the wetland and take a practical approach to the project.
“With all the work we have done on the farm with gorse and old man’s beard, these latest efforts are a natural progression. Now that the weeds are getting under control, we can put the time into the natural wetland area,” Phil said.
“There’s not heaps of it left, so it’s quite a cool thing to have on the farm and we’re keen-as to protect what we’ve got,” Josh said.
Goal is allowing species to flourish
Land Management and Biodiversity Advisor Heath Melville said by actively protecting regionally uncommon species like swamp astelia (or Astelia grandis) and its associated environment and plant community, it feels like we are taking steps to fulfil our obligation to protect our endemic biodiversity.
“In a way we’re also protecting part of our local identity, as our unique environment shapes our community.
“We are so thrilled to have keen landowners on board, who want to see the outcomes that can come from subtle interventions to better-protect a truly unique ecosystem.”
Melville said the main goal is to allow the species that are there to flourish free from disturbance. The permanent fence and ongoing weed control will achieve that.
“Planting a few species around the edges that are missing from the plant assemblage, such as kahikatea and mātai, will speed up the regeneration of taller, longer lived native species.
“It will also improve the buffer between pasture and wetland and improve the habitat and food sources for native birds. Nature will do most of the work for us if we allow it,” he said.
Committee supports project
Kaikōura Water Zone Committee Chair Ted Howard said the whole Committee was pleased to see a project like this be presented.
“The Zone Committee unanimously supported the project and believes that a project like this helps meet targets for biodiversity and habitat creation, as set out in the Canterbury Water Management Strategy (CWMS).”
“Not only will the work protect what is already at home in the wetland, but it will help encourage other endangered species that we need to protect,” he said.
- Local landowners and managers who are interested in assistance or resources for protecting or enhancing wetlands on their property can get in touch with our Kaikōura office by calling 03 319 5781.
All images courtesy of Heath Melville.