Nga Puna Manaaki Wahapu is a citizen science based wetland monitoring project focused on raising the profile of one of our most endangered habitats: wetlands! This three year project delivered by Community Waitakere project is funded by the Ministry for the Environment and sees CW working on urban wetlands in West Auckland.
Nga kukuwai, or wetlands, are extremely precious and rare; they are an endangered species. In Tamaki Makaurau we have just 3 per cent left, and nationally, a mere 10 per cent.
Nga Puna Manaaki Wahapu (named after our first kukuwai site which was a ‘wahapu’ or estuarine wetland) has worked across several urban wetlands, raising the profile and restoring habitats.
Kukuwai are extremely important – they have the highest biodiversity of any ecosystem on land, playing home to plants, eight species of freshwater fish, frogs, birds – many of these rare and endangered like the moho pereru, or banded rail (see below for a picture of a moho pereru and its chick captured on our trail camera). 30 per cent of our native birds are wetland species, and 30 per cent of our threatened plants live in wetlands. Added to this, they act as nurseries for our baby fish stocks, our tuna (eels) and the insects that feed our birds and fish.
They are also incredibly important because they act as carbon sinks by removing carbon dioxide from the air, storing as much as 40 per cent of global terrestrial carbon. We need them to help us fight climate change!
Known as the ‘kidneys’ of the earth, wetlands sieve and filter the water that runs into it. In the urban environment this means sediment, soil, particles, plastic rubbish and pollutants get filtered out before they go into our awa and our moana. Kukuwai can break down about 90 per cent of the nitrogen in run off from farms.
Still not convinced? Wetlands help to absorb big floods and rainfall events, stopping erosion and allowing water to be slowly released – often in times of drought – like a sponge gently leaking out water. So, back in the day, people didn’t need to irrigate their land so much.
If you would like any information about wetlands, or about the Nga Puna Manaaki Wahapu project please contact Sophie Barclay, Citizen Science Coordinator on firstname.lastname@example.org.