Managing Threats to Wetlands

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The Department of Conservation works carefully with organizations, groups, and individuals to reduce the threats to Ō Tū Wharekai.

Wetlands are a forgotten habitat and many people under-rate their importance. Over 90 percent of New Zealand’s wetlands have been drained or filled.

Most threats to wetlands come from human activity.

Just a few changes in the way land is managed can make a big difference to water quality and wetland conservation.


  • possible removal of water for irrigation  and stock water
  • reduced water quality from sediment and nutrient farm run-off
  • Nutrient run off from farmland into waterways
  • emerging weeds such as broom and Russell lupins
  • didymo and other freshwater pests
  • damage from vehicles, rabbits, hares and stock
  • threats to native and at-risk species from predators.


  • recording plant, bird, lizard, invertebrate and fish populations
  • monitoring programmes for the above species
  • listing cultural values and setting up a taonga monitoring programme
  • weed control
  • researching bird breeding success and habitat use
  • fencing riparian  margins
  • raising awareness of wetland values
  • planning for responsible recreational use
  • ongoing pest control.

Responsible recreation

The Ashburton Lakes are used for many different recreational activities. It is important that people who use them and the surrounding areas follow the environmental care code:

  • protect plants and animals
  • remove rubbish
  • bury toilet waste more than 50 metres from waterways
  • keep streams and lakes clean
  • take care with fires
  • camp carefully
  • keep to the track
  • consider others
  • respect our cultural heritage
  • toitu te whenua (leave the land undisturbed).

Also Check, Clean, Dry all items before entering or moving between waterways to stop the spread of didymo.


Audio Māori keywords: 

Discuss this with your classmates: If risks to wetlands aren't managed, how might this affect me, my family, or my friends.

Wai Water is so Important

Monitoring a Wetland


Didymo is also known as ‘rock snot’. How can you stop the spread of didymo? Image: LEARNZ.

Predators are a threat to native and threatened wetland species. Can you name these pests? Image: LEARNZ.

Weeds are another threat to our wetlands. What weeds are pictured here? Image: LEARNZ.

Didymo is an invasive weed in waterways. How do you think it is spread? Image: LEARNZ.

DOC monitor both plant and animal species at Ō Tū Wharekai. What information do you think they gather? Image: LEARNZ.

Trapping is a way of reducing predator numbers. Find out if there is a community trapping programme near you. Image: LEARNZ.

Always follow the environmental care code. How many parts of this code do you know? Image: LEARNZ.