Pockets of the 508-hectare farm resemble an arboretum, with precious specimen trees fenced and surrounded by other trees planted there to protect it from stock and the elements.
Years ago Jim attended a Landcare lecture about having a good influence on the land.
Today the giant eucalypts, the valuable Tasmanian blackwoods (Acacia melanoxylon) (a good straight trunk can be worth $4,000 a cubic metre, says Jim), Douglas firs and Oregon pines, totara, sturdy pin oaks, giant redwoods, some kahikatea that Forest & Bird gave him, towering Leyland cypresses planted to screen the farm from SH2, tupelos and liquidambars with their brilliant autumn colour and hundreds of others are all testament to how he carefully he took that lecture to heart.
He is watching the progress of a hybrid oak he got from Appletons Tree Nursery in Nelson, a Quercus robur ‘Fastigiata’, which has an elegant upright shape and appears to be thriving.
The kanuka and manuka, which are almost in full flower (“it’s nearly time to tell the beekeeper in bring more hives”), have gained more value – “from cutting it and bulldozing it, I am now planting it... for the bees”.
On his daily rounds of the farm that his son, Simon, now runs, Jim gets a lot of pleasure seeing the trees stake their claim on the land, both the trees that preceded him and the ones he has planted. The biggest rata on the property was there long before he took over the farm.
“I thought the stock were going to kill it because they used to camp under it so that’s why we fenced it off and planted around it; that tree is now worth about $5,000 to me”, but it’s not a cost that Jim begrudges.
It’s clear to see Jim, who is now in his mid-70s, loves his trees.
When he ran the farm, which has been in his family for more than 150 years, it was about 60:40 cattle to sheep, with 200 station cows. Now his son runs 40 station cows but he’s also rearing bulls, which is cheaper than buying them in.
They are mostly speckle park crosses and angus hereford crosses.
Jim enjoys still being part of the farm and helps out with the haymaking – mowing paddocks – and checking on stock and other tasks. “I need to get
out – this morning I’ve done a couple of hours of spraying,” he said.
In line with current regulations, and with more stringent rules around the fencing of waterways likely, Jim says his son is lucky because a lot of it, along with planting, has already been done. “We were ahead of our time. We did it mainly to control the river wood trees, which were taking fences out.”
Simon is now trialling different tree varieties to carry on the planting but it is still going to be a massive cost to ensure all the waterways are compliant. The planting has other benefits as well as keeping stock out. Jim has discovered that a one-kilometre section of one of the streams that has established trees along it is about 2 degrees Celsius cooler because of the shade.
The Te Mara stream goes into Waipoua River on the property but by the time the Waipoua has reached Masterton, it has accumulated a lot of water, from the Kiriwhakapapa, Mikimiki and Matahiwi streams as well.
About 20 acres (8ha) of the property between the woolshed near the homestead, where Simon now lives, to where Jim lives above the “Big Pond” is covered by a QEII covenant. Jim thinks now that the covenant should be extended to another area on the farm called Norm’s Marsh.
It was built in tribute to Norman Marsh, a great supporter of DU and generous benefactor when it came to paying for the cost of creating wetlands, several – on Jim’s and other properties – thanks to Norm’s largesse. Jim, who was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for his services to conservation in 2016, is a life member of the QEII National Trust.
The property has about 32 ponds in all. One was created after former DU president John Cheyne, on a visit to the farm, suggested a particular rushy patch would make a good wetland. “It took me three days to bulldoze it and I had to hire a digger for a half-day,” Jim says. Another he calls the “10-Minute
Wetland” – “that’s how long it took to block the end of it with a bulldozer – a pair of shoveler nested there this year and had five ducklings”.
On the big pond, Jim’s two mute swans, which he suspects are both male,compete with scores of scaup for the daily treats delivered by Jim. He says there were 32 scaup ducklings on the pond last year. As well as feeding the swans and scaup and other ducks, Jim has more for the pheasants, Cape Barren geese and quail that frequent the lawns around the house.
The other birds that visit the farm also have plenty to feast on. There’s dragon’s gold kowhai and kaikamako for the tui and bellbirds, tree lucerne,
or tagaste, for the wood pigeons and Himalayan strawberry trees, which all the birds love. He notes that the lucerne makes excellent firewood, “as good as maire”, something that many people don’t realise.
A welcome distraction over Christmas and New Year, as Jim recovers from an injury, has been the arrival on the lawn of some baby quail looking “like little bumblebees”.
He has been trying to breed quail for several years – there were five last year – but this year he has spotted one pair with 11 chicks, one with three and another with two chicks. “I can just look out the window and see them feeding on the lawn. It’s just magic to have them around all the time.”
For Jim, one of his favourite times of day is at night – sitting out on the deck having a whisky, with the Cape Barren on the lawn and the pheasants coming up to use the automatic feeder, and quail running along the deck.
Flight magazine has a copy of The Forest for the Trees, a book by Wayne Bennett, of Forest Flora, to give away.
Wayne says his book explains the benefit of observing natural areas carefully and using this knowledge as a template for restoring forests and wetlands.
He is the co-ordinator for Ecosourced Waikato, a project manager for Waikato Rivercare and is on the committee of Ngaruawahia Action Group.
“Our native plants vary across the country and there is value in retaining this natural diversity.
“If we are to ensure we only plant species that cope well with the conditions and want to minimise weed incursions, we can learn so much from observing what remnants we have left of natural areas,” Wayne says.
“I may be known to some DU members through the taxidermy work I did through the 1980s, 90s and 2000s. I have been restoring forests and wetlands for nearly 40 years and learn best from my mistakes. The book does not gloss over mistakes but takes lessons from them.”
He says there are many books on the identification of native plants but few describing how they grow, what they tolerate and what they are vulnerable to.
“These are things that usually only experience can tell but there is a section discussing the ecology of all of the plants mentioned elsewhere in the book, both native plants and weeds.
“There are many native plants, not well known, that contribute to the welfare of waterfowl. This book is intended to help provide that knowledge.”
Project Taranaki Mounga, a ten year $24 million project involving pest eradication and reintroduction of species over the 34,000ha of Egmont National Park was last December given the green light with a funding commitment by the NEXT Foundation.
Local philanthropic organisation the NEXT Foundation announced it would invest up to $15 million in the restoration of Taranaki’s native ecology. The Foundation has committed to funding Project Taranaki Mounga, a 10 year project involving pest eradication and reintroduction of species in Egmont National Park.
The venture between the NEXT, DOC, iwi, and the Taranaki community will begin with pest and weed control and the ecological restoration of Egmont National Park and a small number of volcanic peaks and offshore islands. NEXT and DOC have committed to funding the first phase of 18 months with strong interest from other parties. DOC has committed just over $1.6 million for the first phase.
Work will start on phase one this February and during the 18 months the project intends to:
DOC Director General Lou Sanson said he was thrilled Project Taranaki Mounga has been given a green light with the commitment of funding from the NEXT Foundation.
“Project Taranaki Mounga has been recognised as one of the next big exciting and bold conservation ventures,” said Lou Sanson.
The project’s vision is to protect our mountain for our wellbeing – Ko Taranaki tooku whakaruruhau.
“Given the strong Iwi connection and Whakapapa to Taranaki Mounga, Iwi are a critical partner in the successful delivery of this project.
Lou said the project will create a legacy of cultural, environmental and economic benefits for generations to come.
“Healthy flourishing ecosystems will sustain the quality and abundance of freshwater underpinning the Taranaki economy which adds to New Zealand’s image, and showcases this country’s leadership in pest eradication.
“It’s exciting knowing lessons learnt in Taranaki will be able to be transferred to even larger landscapes when successful,” said Lou.
Restoration Day at Wario May 21, proved to be a success with helpers like Ross Cottle, Ian Gunn, and Tapuwa Marapara, who were able to share their expertise with those who attended.
Adding to the success was the wide diversity of people present, both as presenters and as participants. There were 30 on the bus all up and the combination of talks on the bus and pauses during the field trips gave plenty of time for the story to unfold and for people to ask questions.
The weather played its part too!
It’s all science: Two PhD students, Eve Sutter (wearing hat) and Elisa Piispa, from Victoria University School of Chemistry and Physical Sciences, using an array of electrodes to measure below-ground resistivity at various depths. The technique can be used to estimate the profile of the water table along a transect without the need to dig multiple bore holes.
(Stephen was the organiser).
A cheque for $6500 from the Nikau Foundation was handed over to Ducks Unlimited (DUNZ) President Ross Cottle and Patron Jim Campbell by Gus van de Roer of the Nikau Foundation to go towards the restoration of the Wairio Wetland.
Nikau Foundation Chairman Kevin O’Connor said he was delighted the Foundation was able to support Ducks Unlimited with its restoration work at the Wairio Wetland on the eastern shore of Lake Wairarapa.
While most grants had previously gone to Wellington based organisations he added that the Wairarapa is part of the wider community supported by the Foundation.
Ross Cottle said the grant would go towards site preparation and tree planting at the joint venture project with DOC.
“We are starting to see the results of four years of effort and this injection of funds will help maintain the momentum of the project,” said Ross.
Tree planting is planned for May/June and volunteers are welcome. In past years children from Pirinoa Primary School, students from the Taratahi Agricultural Training Centre, Rotarians and DU and F&B members have assisted with the planting.
Nikau Foundation is the community foundation for the Wellington region, part of a worldwide family that provides a simple, effective and long-lasting way for people to leave a gift for causes close to their heart and close to home. Because the capital is invested and only the income is given out, the gift
keeps on giving forever.
The grant for the Wairio Wetland restoration project has been arranged by Nikau on behalf of the Richard and Doreen Evans Trust.
A busy day at Wairio:
There was a digger on site to raise the walking track.
The success of retaining water in the wetland has required this work. Also the need to clear a few culverts to allow the water to flow more easily from Stage 4 (in the slightly higher ground in the north of the wetland) to the Stage 3 area. Though there is still plenty of work in progress and the need to equalise the water level.
There is new walking track signage made by DOC. That will be a big help for those interested in exploring the area.
And lastly, Stephen Hartley from Victoria University (with helpers Maxine, Veronica and our own Ross Cottle) starting a drone flight to record vegetation and water levels, principally in the Stage 3 research area.
Harnessing wetlands as green infrastructure solutions to our water woes
For one weekend every July in Canada, the village of St. Pierre-Jolys hosts the National Frog Jumping Championship. It’s part of the annual Frog Follies Festival. The thriving Franco-Manitoban community is also proud of its parks, a new residential compost pickup service and the Trans-Canada Trail that runs along the nearby Rat River. It’s about as green as it gets here. And it’s about to get greener.
Seeing wastewater through a green lens
Standing on a grassy berm overlooking St. Pierre-Jolys’ current wastewater treatment lagoon, Janine Wiebe points to an adjacent muddy field.
“In a few months, this field will be full of heavy equipment,” she says, smiling. The village’s chief administrative officer describes how their wastewater treatment system will expand to include a new tertiary treatment wetland.
Like all communities, St. Pierre-Jolys must anticipate the current and future needs of their wastewater treatment system. Future growth depends on it. Their system needs to remove pollutants, deliver clean water, handle increased volume and cope with the uncertain timing of storm water events.
Traditional, concrete treatment plants are expensive to build and maintain. St. PierreJolys found a better solution.
Staff from Native Plant Solutions (NPS) proposed the tertiary treatment wetland; a sustainable, cleaner, cost-effective and greener way to reduce nutrient levels in the village’s wastewater.
“In this system, a third cleansing cell – the wetland – is added to the primary and secondary treatment cells to reduce phosphorous levels,” says Glen Koblun, manager of NPS. NPS is a consulting branch of Ducks Unlimited Canada (DUC) and a leader in science-based treatment wetland systems.
“There’s lower maintenance and management costs to this system compared to chemical or mechanical treatment options,” adds Koblun.
The treatment wetland system takes advantage of the natural functions of wetland plants – a process called phytoremediation – that transforms common pollutants into harmless by-products or essential nutrients. This comes from the sheer amount of biological activity that occurs in a wetland system including sunlight, wind, water, air, plants and soils.
“This project fits our vision,” says Wiebe. “We are leaving a legacy that will make it easier for future generations. It allows room for expansion and will cost less in the long run.”
Green infrastructure: it’s only natural
Green infrastructure is a buzz word that’s infiltrating conversations about making communities more resilient to disasters like floods. DUC research scientist Pascal Badiou, PhD, believes green infrastructure is essential. Wetlands, he says, are one of the most powerful systems available to us.
Traditional built infrastructure such as dry dams or water treatment systems serve an important role but typically address only one issue and come with high maintenance costs,” says Badiou.
“Green infrastructure, which includes natural areas, vegetation and wetlands, captures and treats stormwater and runoff at its source. It’s building with nature instead of concrete.”
Communities from coast to coast are finding that nature has an effective and efficient way to deal with wastewater: wetlands. These cost-effective, natural powerhouses provide benefits and services that reduce the need for costly built (grey) infrastructure such as dams, water diversions, water treatment plants and engineered carbon sinks. Green infrastructure like wetlands can also reduce pressure on and extend the life of grey infrastructure. ©DUC
Wetlands hold rainwater, snowmelt and floodwaters. They filter pollutants, store carbon, replenish groundwater, reduce erosion and provide habitat for wildlife as well as places for people to enjoy the outdoors.
“Other types of flood control are not able to deliver the additional benefits that wetlands provide,” says Badiou, who has conducted extensive research across the Prairies about the role of wetland drainage on water quality and quantity.
Seeing the green light through restoration
Getting people and governments to appreciate green infrastructure can be difficult. In Alberta, it took the devastating floods of June 2013 for the provincial government to reach a watershed moment. Southern Alberta was inundated. Downtown Calgary shut down. These events cost millions of dollars in damage.
The government responded with a number of funding programmes to address a wide range of recovery activities, including the Watershed Resiliency and Restoration Programme (WRRP). As its name implies, the WRRP aims to improve watershed functions to build greater long-term resiliency to droughts and floods. Resiliency would be improved through restoration, conservation, education and stewardship.
Traditional mitigation projects involve largescale construction or engineered structures (“grey” infrastructure). Watershed restoration supported by WRRP focuses on natural solutions. This includes conserving and restoring wetlands.
Tracy Scott, DUC’s head of industry and government relations in Alberta, and other DUC staff presented a business case for the use of wetland restoration for flood mitigation in southern Alberta. Their efforts helped inform the government’s development and implementation of the WRRP.
“The expansion of the WRRP programme to include natural green infrastructure was an excellent example of how we helped the Government of Alberta align wetland conservation with provincial and societal priorities, including Alberta’s Wetland Policy,” says Scott. “Few people recognise that the new Alberta Wetland Policy represents an important implementation tool to support Alberta’s flood, drought, water quality and biodiversity management goals.”
During the first round of the programme’s implementation in 2014, DUC has received $11.6 million to fund restoration of 1,380 acres (558 hectares) of wetlands in flood- and drought-prone areas in the southern part of the province
“A significant proportion of that money is going directly into the pockets of participating landowners, rewarding them for their contribution to ecosystem services, with the balance being used for the actual restoration work,” says Scott.
This puts the natural power of the landscape to work, instead of relying only on traditional engineered infrastructure,” says Scott. It’s a proactive approach that’s safeguarding the long-term future of water, wildlife and people across the province.
“The WRRP is the first chapter of DUC’s green infrastructure story in Alberta,” says Scott.
St. Pierre-Jolys CAO Janine Wiebe stands near the future site of the village’s tertiary treatment
wetland. The village consulted with DUC’s Native Plant Solutions on the project, will be an
additional treatment step to clean wastewater. This form of green infrastructure uses natural
wetland processes to clean the water before it enters the Rat River. ©Leigh Patterson
Pairing green with grey
As Alberta has learned, flood control is a key environmental benefit provided by wetlands. But little research exists specific to Ontario. The need to fill information gaps has escalated in recent years as the province has been hit with bigger storms and floods.
In 2016, DUC and several partners conducted research in the Credit River watershed, a densely-populated region vulnerable to extensive flooding. They used a hydrological model that quantified the consequences of wetland loss and gain on flooding under a variety of storm events.
This past fall, the results came in.
Not surprisingly, in modeling scenarios where researchers removed wetlands from the landscape, flooding was worse. When wetlands were restored the intensity of flooding diminished.
The research supports the idea that when combined with built infrastructure like storm water retention ponds, green infrastructure like wetlands can provide another layer of flood defence. Green infrastructure like wetlands can also reduce the pressure on and extend the life of grey infrastructure.
“The research identifies areas where wetland restoration will have the greatest impact on flood reduction,” says Mark Gloutney, PhD, DUC’s director of regional operations, eastern region. “DUC can work with municipalities, conservation authorities and others to better plan for extreme weather and flooding by helping build up their inventory of natural infrastructure assets, like wetlands.”
Building climate-resilient communities in Ontario will require strategic investments in wetland restoration, says Gloutney. DUC, he adds, “is prepared to come to the table.”
Coast to coast: more shades of green
Janine Wiebe is looking forward to the final implementation of her village’s green vision. They plan to add educational signage and trails around the new tertiary wetland site. They also want to invite environmental science students to conduct research there.
As they wait, cities like Moncton, N.B. are reaping the rewards of investing in green infrastructure.
By working with NPS staff, Moncton has integrated wetland-like naturalised storm water retention ponds into urban developments. These urban wetlands are able to store and filter vast amounts of water, which improve water quality as a result.
Elaine Aucoin, Moncton’s director of environmental planning and management found that these systems are functional, and add to the quality of life for residents. “Wetlands look a lot nicer, and provide the community with a place to gather around, unlike dry ponds that are often fenced off, and a waste of space,” says Aucoin.
In March, DUC president Jim Couch recognised the City of Moncton with a special “Ducks Unlimited Canada Order of Conservation” for its wetland conservation leadership.
Leading the green infrastructure revolution on the opposite side of the country is Gibsons on B.C.’s sunshine coast. The town gained national recognition when the Globe and Mail profiled it for declaring Nature its “most valuable infrastructure asset”. Their 2015 financial statements read: The Town is fortunate to have many natural assets that reduce the need for man-made infrastructure that would otherwise be required. This and filtration), creeks, ditches and wetlands (rain water management) and the foreshore area (natural seawall).
What gets measured gets managed. So important are these green infrastructure assets, the town made a pioneering decision to include them under the same asset management system as engineered infrastructure.
Walking over a footbridge spanning the springswollen Rat River, Wiebe says she understands why Gibsons values the potential of green infrastructure solutions that exist around us.
“Instead of working against nature, we should be working with it.”
Leigh Patterson is editor of Conservator