Have your say on the future of Bay wetlands

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The Lower Kaituna wetland is an important part of the Bay's ecosystem. Photo/file
The Lower Kaituna wetland is an important part of the Bay's ecosystem. Photo/file

People are invited to attend a community meeting to discuss the recreation of 80 hectares of wetlands in the Western Bay of Plenty.

The wetlands sit between Te Puke, Papamoa and Maketu.

The meeting till be held on May 11 from 7pm at the Te Puke Lyceum Club, 8 Palmer St, Te Puke.

Bay of Plenty Regional Council project manager Courtney Bell said that the proposed new wetland restoration area is adjacent to the Lower Kaituna Wildlife Management Reserve, near where the Tauranga Eastern Link toll road crosses the Kaituna River.

"We're in the early planning stages of the project and we're keen to hear what locals would like to see incorporated into the plan. Anyone who's interested is welcome to come along to the meeting to discuss the project with us," she said.

Ms Bell said that wetlands help to manage flood water and keep streams and rivers clean by filtering run-off.

They also provide habitat for many threatened native plants and animals.

"This project has been initiated as part of our work to implement the Kaituna River and Ongatoro/Maketu Estuary Strategy which was developed by local councils, iwi and the community in 2009.

The strategy set goals of caring for the Lower Kaituna Wildlife Management Reserve and creating at least 100 hectares of new wetland in the Kaituna catchment by 2018.

About 98 per cent of freshwater wetlands in the Kaituna catchment have been drained since the 1800s. By adding to the largest wetland remnant in the area we'll be able to bring back wildlife and provide better opportunities for people to enjoy nature walks, bird-watching, game-bird hunting, white-baiting or cultural practices like flax harvest and eeling," Ms Bell said.

Regional Council is working in partnership with iwi, Department of Conservation, Fish and Game New Zealand and other partners to manage the project which will include retiring paddocks from grazing, returning water flow and planting native wetland plants.

Ms Bell said that anyone who's interested but unable to attend the meeting is welcome to call her on 0800 884 881 ext 8520 to discuss the project.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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