Wetlands are highly productive environments that can support a diverse range of plants and animals (birds, fish and insects). Wetlands support processes which provide environmental services like water storage and flood control, nutrient removal, erosion control and water table maintenance. Wetland areas have always been highly valued by Maori, providing a rich source of traditional resources like food (fish and birds), flax and medicinal plants.
Most of New Zealand's wetlands were drained between 1920 and 1980 for pastoral land use. They have been reduced by about 85%, and many remaining wetland areas are still under pressure from land development. Of those that are left, many are small and their natural character and habitat quality are degraded by partial drainage, damage by farm animals and weed invasion. Lowland wetlands have been mostly affected and are still at risk in some cases.
In Marlborough, an inventory of remaining wetlands was carried out in 2001 to provide an overview of freshwater wetlands and an assessment of their extent, type and the threats they face. (Report available on request).
A brochure describing types of wetlands in Marlborough and methods of protecting and restoring wetlands is available from Council.