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Friday
Jun052015

Forest & Bird Thames Wetlands Report

The following comprises a report to members to the Thames Forest & Bird on our wetlands by its tireless leader - Ken Clark of whom many readers will be aware.

I thought it appropriate to bring this to a wider audience because it shows an aspect of what goes on in this town with little or no TCDC support, and that illustrates what could possibly have been done here to better provide a WW1 memorial, rather than the elaborate tree planting scheme being promoted by Council around the existing War Memorial. .

Thames does not even feature in the latest report to the Economic Development Committee by the convener of the ambitious project - Ben Dunbar-Smith. This is presumably because of the considerable work required adjacent to and behind the War Memorial to prepare for the planting, but it does show what an after-thought Thames has turned into compared to the advanced planning and activity already under way at all the East Coast venues.

Here we have a considerable number of existing Forest & Bird volunteers who would undoubtedly have appreciated the opportunity to participate in the project, but with a wetlands emphasis that is far more relevant to what is going on here. Pity a little more thought was not put into it, and consultation with the real tree people who are dedicated to the restoration of vast wetlands that constitute the lungs of the Waihou/Piako. And for the sake of argument, let us put aside for one moment the the fact that the work is mainly being udertaken in Hauraki DC territory - that is immaterial, even if Leach and Tregidga remain at loggerhgeads.   

In view of the stand-still nature of the existing Thames WW1 tree planting project, it may not even be too late for a rethink to take place through contact with Forest and Bird. It would certainly show serious intent to get Thames involved rather quicker than is likely under the present process that has almost zero local involvement or enthusiasm since the loss of the Gallipoli designation to Cathedral Cove. Just a thought!

Here is Ken's Report:

Subject: An Update on the Thames Wetlands

Ativities 1 June 2014 – 31 May 2015

Thames Forest and Bird Society Inc

The Society continues its protection for the mile-long strip of marsh,fescue prairie and mangrove formed along the West bank of the estuary of the Waihou, above and below Kopu bridge. This work was begun in 2002 by a group of volunteers who have sustained the area through planting, weeding, fertilising and spraying. Their numbers began to drop off until by 2009 a mere 134 man-hours was recorded. This trend has now been reversed, with the current 12 month period amounting to 676 man-hours of volunteer support.

This has enabled the group this year to give closer attention to the many pohutukawa, ngaio, flax and smaller plants that had earlier been established. Pohutukawa had flourished in some places but in others had struggled, raising questions of soil levels, fertiliser and shading from mangroves. The planting programme for this winter comprised replacement trees and new sites particularly upstream from the new bridge. These trees were pohutukawa, ngaio, flax,cabbage tree, giant umbrella,muehlenbeckia, c. propinqua,and some karaka.

The presence of bird life in the area is difficult to measure but in general it cannot be said to have changed much over the decade-long project. The only sighting of remark has been the appearance of a banded rail with two semiadult chicks in Nov 2014. Protection from predators has been reduced by the withdrawal of the single cage trap in Jan 2015. The remaining single DOC250, Fenn, and two Timms traps have accounted for 3 rats, 1 rabbit, and 3 hedge-hogs. Cats are an ongoing threat and cannot be reduced with present equipment. The Society is encouraged by the proposed construction of a bicycle way between Kopu and Kaiaua over the coming year as this may provide for a degree of stricter predator control.

A further helpful factor has been the recent dissemination by DOC of a map defining the Ramsar area for Firth of Thames (see below). The original Ramsar agreement was signed by 21 participating governments. It now includes 169 governments including NZ. The mission statement commits Contracting Parties to work towards the wise use of all the wetlands and water resources in their territory, through national plans, policies and legislation, management actions and public education. The Treaty promotes the conservation and sustainable utilization of wetlands, recognizing the fundamental ecological functions of wetlands and their economic, cultural, scientific, and recreational value. It is named after the city of Ramsar in Iran, where the Convention was signed in 1971.

Map: https://rsis.ramsar.org/RISapp/files/580/pictures/NZ459map.pdf

The Eastern boundary of Ramsar zone is formed by the high tide levels from Kopu to Tararu.

The Society has this year celebrated World Wetlands Day by holding a public walk through the area along the Waihou Estuary. This was led by John Rich of DOC and attended by 15 visitors from the wider Thames community. This open day which in fact celebrates the anniversary of the signing of the Ramsar agreement is intended to be celebrated again in future years.

The Society's work has been enabled to continue with the generous help of Pub Charity and other donors who over the life of the project have provided a total of $84,000. The Society expresses its appreciation of the support it has received from donors, volunteers and from government, central and local. The project of conservation along the riverbank is loosely and informally connected to other projects nearby: the one mile of planting by Transport NZ of a mile of native trees containing many canopy trees from the Northern end of Hauraki Rd to the Kopu circle; and the Kirikiri Bird Corridor which seeks to foster the planting of canopy trees and containment of water quality in the watershed of the Kirikiri stream.

Thames Forest and Bird

Ken Clark

kow@xtra.co.nz

5 June 2015

 

 


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Reader Comments (1)

Useful commentary ! Just to add my thoughts if people are searching for a a form , my colleagues used a sample version here http://goo.gl/3C3hzh

August 4, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterPat Redman

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