Wetlands and biodiversity

A wetland is land that is covered in, or saturated by water for at least some of the time. Wetlands occur in areas where surface water collects or where underground water seeps through to the surface. They include swamps, bogs, marshes, gumlands, saltmashes, mangroves and some river and lake stream edges.

Peat bog near Kaitaia.Peat bog near Kaitāia, one of the rarest wetland types.

In the past wetlands in Northland covered around 258,451 hectares or 32 percent of the land area. Just 5.5 percent or 14,114 ha of the original wetland area remains with less than four percent remaining south of Kaitāia. Some of the wetlands being lost in Northland are unique and therefore irreplaceable.

In 2009 the council initiated the Top Wetlands Project which is now being carried out. More than 900 of Northland's remaining wetlands have been added to a GIS-linked database and 305 of the region's best and most irreplaceable wetlands were ranked and prioritised for management and protection using a scoring system based on national methods. More than 40 of Northland's estuarine wetland systems were scored and ranked separately.

The next phase of the project involves working with the landowners of high value ranked wetlands (153 sites to date) to provide information about their wetlands and to offer assistance and advice on how to care for them.