Regionally Significant Wetlands

Otago’s diverse landscapes have produced an array of wetlands. They include forest swamps, valley floor bogs, sub-alpine swamps and inland salt pans. These wetlands also come in various shapes and sizes, from narrow strips of swamp along the margins of a creek, to the vast scroll plains of the Upper Taieri River. However, the ecological differences between wetland types are not distinct.

Although large tracts of wetland have gradually been lost to burning, drainage, and land-use intensification, extraordinary examples of wetland ecosystems still remain. These wetlands continue to support a diversity of native birds, fish, invertebrates, and plants, many of which are threatened and depend on wetland environments for survival. Maori value these wetlands for food, craft and building materials, and medicinal resources, while locals and tourists welcome the opportunities they offer for outdoor recreational activities. Research also points to the vital role wetlands play in maintaining the long-term economic productivity, and quality of life in the Otago region. Individually and collectively, wetlands also help maintain the quality of our freshwater resources, and guard against drought and flooding.

Which wetlands are included in the inventory?

The inventory includes Regionally Significant Wetlands that are mapped and contain one or more regionally significant wetland values. These values, listed in Policy 10.4.1 of the Water Plan, are:

A1 Habitat for nationally or internationally rare or threatened species or communities
A2 Critical habitat for the life cycles of indigenous fauna which are dependent on wetlands
A3 High diversity of wetland habitat types
A4 High degree of naturalness
A5 Wetland scarce in Otago in terms of its ecological or physical character
A6 Wetland which is highly valued by Kai Tahu for cultural and spiritual beliefs, values and uses, including waahi taoka and mahika kai
A7 High diversity of indigenous flora and fauna
A8 Regionally significant wetland habitat of waterfowl
A9 Significant hydrological values including maintaining water quality or low flows, or reducing flood flows.

A listing of these Regionally Significant Wetlands occurs in Schedule 9 of the Otago Water Plan.

However, the inventory is not limited to the Regionally Significant Wetlands listed in Schedule 9. It can hold information on any Otago wetland, thus acting as an important tool for identifying wetlands worth assessing for future inclusion in Schedule 9 of the Regional Plan: Water for Otago.

To find out the rules for Regionally Significant Wetlands, including plants you can and cannot plant, click here.

Purpose of the inventory

To achieve the sustainable management of Otago’s wetlands, accurate and relevant information is required about the physical characteristics of these wetlands, the values they support and the varying environmental conditions upon which they depend. Communities, landholders, and decision-makers also need a good understanding of the diverse natural, hydrological, and human use values that wetlands support. The development of this publicly accessible wetlands inventory is an important step in generating a comprehensive, region-wide picture of Otago’s remaining wetlands. It serves a four-fold purpose:

  1. Raising public awareness of the region’s wetlands by presenting a wealth of information in a user-friendly form.
  2. Giving landowners a better understanding of the values supported by individual wetlands, and the potential for degradation and loss. It also encourages landowners to better control the effects of their activities on wetlands or their values.
  3. Providings government officials, agencies, and decision makers with information about activities that could harm wetlands, assists in the design of management programs, and aids decision making.
  4. Providing  baseline information that can be used to design monitoring programs.

This inventory is intended for information only.  It does not form part of the Regional Plan: Water for Otago or any other regulatory document and has no legal effect. Rather, it is a stand-alone repository for data and information, where all people – professionals or laypeople – can collect information or share their knowledge. By acting as a platform for the exchange of information between various stakeholders, the inventory may stimulate community-wide support for increased protection and enhancement of wetlands.

The inventory information will be updated regularly to include information that would otherwise be unavailable to decision-makers and the general public.  This will ensure the content stays relevant and accurate.

How to use the Inventory (723 KB)

How wetlands are included in this inventory

Before any wetland is included in this inventory, including as a Regional Significant Wetland or containing regionally significant wetland values, Council will:

  • Obtain a report, prepared by a suitably qualified person, describing the wetland and its features in the context of those values listed in Policy 10.4.1 of the Regional Plan: Water for Otago, and may obtain an independent review of that report; and
  • Provide all affected landowners with a copy of all reports; and
  • Inform the landowner of the inventory’s purpose and standing and seek a response to any proposed inclusion of the wetland in the inventory.
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