New Zealanders are urged to help protect wetlands that are not only crucial to the survival of game birds and other wildlife – but help humans survive natural disasters.
And Fish & Game says one of the best ways of protecting wetlands is by buying the 2017 habitat stamp.
“We are asking people to make a relatively small investment that can potentially make a big difference if enough folk respond,” says Fish & Game Chief Executive Bryce Johnson.
The latest Fish & Game habitat stamp is being launched today to mark World Wetlands Day. The theme of the world wide day is “wetlands for disaster risk reduction.”
The 2017 Habitat Stamp – the 24th in the series - features the California quail in a painting by Rotorua artist Jeanette Blackburn (jeanetteblackburn.co.nz), renowned for her wildlife and landscape works.
The Game Bird Habitat Stamp programme was set up to raise funds – from the sale of the game bird hunting licences, stamp collection and related products – for projects aimed at protecting and enhancing wetlands and game bird and other wildlife habitat.
Mr Johnson says that this year’s World Wetlands Day theme focusses on the role that wetlands play where humans too are placed at risk.
“Healthy wetlands are crucial in helping to minimise the impact of weather events like floods and droughts, which too many New Zealand communities are unfortunately rather familiar with.
“We can do more to manage wetlands so they help to absorb and store excess rainfall.
“Even on the coast wetlands in the form of mangroves and tidal estuaries can help lessen the impact of cyclones and other storm events by helping to reduce storm surges.”
Mr Johnson says hunters have been making a big contribution to wetland protection for decades.
“Hunters play a significant role in protecting and conserving New Zealand's wildlife habitat through buying the habitat stamps which are fixed to their hunting licences.”
Part of their licence fee ($3 in 2017) goes towards wildlife habitat conservation with every game licence they buy.
Buying a stamp is one small simple way the public can give direct support to habitat protection, and there are lots of choices available from NZ Post – from a $10 stamp up to $65 for the limited edition print, he adds.
“We are delighted to remind people that since its launch, the Habitat Trust has distributed more than $1.3 million dollars, around $100,000 a year on average in grants towards various projects,” he says.
Mr Johnson says Fish & Game wetland projects around the country are coming to fruition – such as the Para Wetland in the South Island.
The largest remaining lowland freshwater wetland in Marlborough, the 122 hectare Para wetland in Marlborough between Picton and Blenheim, is well on the way to being returned to its original state.
The project, which includes creating areas of open water, is now around half completed.
“The project has involved creating areas of open water, installing culverts to increase water flow into areas which have been opened up, and the planting of native trees,” Mr Johnson says.
The Para Wetland is one of better examples of hunters doing conservation work and one that’s highly visible because it is beside State Highway 1 near the Picton ferry terminal.
“People have noticed over time the progress we are making.”
Mr Johnson says that the latest project is in Northland, where Northland Fish and Game Council has worked with the Nature Heritage Fund and Department of Conservation on the protection of the Underwood Wetland.
Northland Fish & Game purchased a portion of the Underwood Wetland from the Underwood farming family, in conjunction with the Nature Heritage Fund.
The Underwood’s have protected much of the property’s native vegetation and habitats and details of the work will be unveiled later this month .
Fish & Game, and game bird hunters, are proud to have played a leading role in such wetland protection and conservation, Mr Johnson says.
- The Habitat Trust has supported many projects on both public and private land and landowners can apply for grants to enhance or develop wetlands before the end of June. For application forms, click here.
For World Wetlands Day events and other information, click here.