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Kaweka Lakes’ Interesting Biodiversity

Listening to expert talks at Kaweka Lakes Nathan Burkepile.

Photo: Mike Lusk tells Biodiversity Hawke’s Bay event attendees about plant life around the Kaweka Lakes.

Around 60 people, including several children, enjoyed Biodiversity Hawke’s Bay’s trip to the Kaweka Lakes to mark World Wetlands Day on Saturday (2 February). 

A bus was provided from Napier to emphasise sustainable transport, as the theme this year is Wetlands and Climate Change’.  The cooler weather did not disappoint as cloud and mist in the Forest Park made Rotoroa and Rototuna (Kaweka Lakes) very atmospheric, and more comfortable for the 20 minute walk into the lakes.

The walk was one of over 1000 events held around the globe on 2 Feb to mark World Wetlands Day, an international event to celebrate and highlight the important role wetlands play in our landscape. The event was in partnership with Department of Conservation and NZ Landcare Trust.

Local experts Matt Brady (DOC), Nathan Burkepile (NZ Landcare Trust), Mike Lusk, and Dr. Amelia McQueen (EIT) spoke about the value of wetlands which are surrounded by regenerating bush and commercial forestry.  On the route special native plants were pointed out, including native orchids and piri piri, and the children were particularly interested in the live native fish (korao), insects (dragonfly and damsel fly larvae), a native aquatic snail and a frog caught in containers. 

Dr McQueen also explained how lakes, swamps and other wetlands are a natural solution to help cope with climate extremes, storing carbon, providing habitats for native species, and absorbing flood water.

"In Hawke's Bay, as across most of New Zealand, we have lost an enormous amount of wetlands. We are lucky enough to still have some special wetlands in relatively good condition and this fieldtrip has been a great chance to visit two special ones - Rotoroa and Rototuna,” says Dr McQueen.

“These lakes are biodiversity hot-spots which are home to a wide range of native fish, birds and plants."

This year’s theme is ‘Wetlands and Climate Change’ as increasing climate extremes is one of the most pressing problems facing humanity and our planet. This theme also draws attention to the vital role of wetlands as a natural solution to help us cope with climate change. 

Nationally New Zealand has less than 10 percent left of the wetlands that existed before human settlement.  Efforts are being made across the country by councils, community groups and farmers to restore wetlands.

“Wetlands are one of our best tools to store carbon and reduce the impacts of global climate change so protecting and restoring them is really important,” says NZ Landcare Trust Regional Representative, Nathan Burkepile.

“We were very pleased at the interest people had in this event, especially families, who took the opportunity to visit one of our more remote natural beauty spots and learnt about how important these lakes are to biodiversity,” says Genevieve Bennett, Biodiversity HB Project Manager.

Information on Biodiversity Hawke’s Bay and future events is on 0404

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7 February 2019

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