Locals are invited to attend a community meeting to hear about plans to recreate a 80ha wetland between Te Puke, Papamoa and Maketu.
The meeting will be held on Wednesday May 11 from 7pm to 8.30pm at the Te Puke Lyceum Club on Palmer St.
Bay of Plenty Regional Council project manager Courtney Bell said the proposed new wetland restoration area was 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 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 100ha of new wetland in the Kaituna catchment by 2018.
"About 98 percent 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.
The 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 anyone interested who could not attend the meeting was welcome to call her on (0800) 884 881 ext 8520 to discuss the project.