Norske Skog Tasman Wildland Consultants Ltd
Wetland Restoration Project
Norske Skog Tasman is undertaking a major restoration project at the paper mill effluent treatment ponds near Kawerau. Wildland Consultants managed the project, including restoration planning, mapping, planting, weed and pest control, and monitoring.
In 2001 the project was recognised under the RAMSAR Convention with a national award from the Minister of Conservation for the development and application of best practice in the conservation and wise use of wetlands. The project also won the Industry/Business/Council section in the Environment BOP Environmental Awards Scheme in 2000.
The site was originally a natural wetland, Lake Rotoroa, with extensive wetlands on the lake margins. Prior to human arrival the surrounding hills were covered with podocarp/tawa forest but this was removed at an early stage following human settlement. A network of industrial treatment ponds had been constructed in the vicinity of the original lake, using a series of embankments. The development of roading, buildings, hard stands, and effluent treatment equipment resulted in major changes and the loss of most natural character from the site. Prior to the start of restoration works, remaining ecological values were associated with very degraded open water habitat rather than indigenous vegetation or vegetated wetlands.
To restore a network of wetlands and contiguous margins, linked to other natural areas, that provide high quality habitats for indigenous plants and fauna, particularly water birds.
- To restore and manage the indigenous character of the site with a particular focus on wetland habitat and associated terrestrial margins.
- To enable the sustainable use of the site as a waste water treatment facility.
Restoration Works and Planting
A restoration and management plan has been prepared which involves the removal of weeds and exotic trees, recontouring, and substrate restoration. About 7 ha was planted in 1999 and these plantings are now well established. A further 5 ha was planted in July 2000 and 8.5 ha in 2001 and 2002. More than 230,000 indigenous seedlings will been planted, including a diverse range of more than 50 species of terrestrial and wetland plants. Indigenous plant species are regenerating naturally in the restored habitats. In visual terms the site looks much better, and visitors have made many positive comments about the improvements. A very significant outcome to date is that the project has become a catalyst for other ecological restoration projects near Kawerau, and several other substantial projects are now underway, including another major wetland project.
The diversity of wildlife has increased following initial restoration works. Dabchick, a nationally threatened species, are now breeding in the wetlands, a site where they had not been recorded previously. Scaup have also re-established.
|Dabchick are breeding
in the wetlands