The discovery of tadpole shrimp in a Central Hawke's Bay wetland is proof that environmental improvement efforts are paying off, Hawke's Bay Regional Council says.
Considered a "living fossil", they were found in Orea swamp. The swamp and the Amblethorn wetland are considered acutely threatened ecosystems in Omakere and Elsthorpe.
Hawke's Bay Regional Council's biodiversity and biosecurity manager, Mark Mitchell, said these wetlands were formed in basins and are tiny remnants of what once were extensive mosaics of swamp and alluvial forests that blanketed the area.
"A feature of both areas are stands of kahikatea, including some fairly old trees."
He said it was vital to protect these small remaining remnants as they are "lifelines" for the endemic species that live within them.
The regional council has been working in partnership with The Conservation Company, landowners, Omakere School and the Department of Conservation to restore them, with Mitchell adding, they were "seeing results already".
"A good example of this was discovering the New Zealand tadpole shrimp which has survived in the Orea wetland.
"This small, slightly weird-looking creature is a throwback to ancient times 190 million years ago and is considered a living fossil."
The species is continuing to decline nationally due to loss of habitat and is now listed as nationally endangered.
He said environmental restoration is hard work, so it was good having dedicated landowners and local communities protecting these sites.
"No one entity can do it alone, these partnerships are essential and are already bearing fruits."
Kay Griffiths, a restoration ecologist from The Conservation Company, was also pleased by the finding.
"Controlling willows and other weeds, planting natives, fencing areas off and controlling animal pests is hard work, but it's immensely pleasing to see results already starting to show, with natural regeneration starting to occur and the return of native birds and invertebrates. "
Recent surveys had also shown both areas to be foraging grounds for native long-tailed bat, she said.