Wetlands are areas of land which are permanentely or intermittently covered in water. They are many types of wetlands in New Zealand including bogs, marshes, swamps, seepages, and the edges of rivers, lakes and estuaries. This page discusses ways to look after your wetland and help it thrive.
You do not have to fence off your wetland unless there is significant damage to the wetland such as obvious pugging or heavy grazing of wetland vegetation. If you are a Fonterra supplier you will be required to exclude stock from wetland sites in order to comply with the Sustainable Dairying Water Accord.
Any drainage, diversion or damming must not alter the hydrology of the wetland. This means pre-existing drainage ditches on the wetland boundary may be maintained to the depth and breadth they have been in the past, but precludes enlarging them, or digging drainage ditches within the wetland.
New drainage works near the wetland are permitted as long as they do not impact on the wetland. The zone of hydrological influence depends on the slope and soil porosity. Placing the spoil on the wetland side of the ditch can sometimes help hold water in the wetland, but spoil must not be dumped directly on the wetland.
Control of weeds in wetlands is encouraged, provided there is no significant damage to native species. Please note that only certain herbicides can be used around wetlands and waterways, as many are highly toxic to freshwater life. Biosecurity and wetlands staff at Council are happy to provide advice.
Land developments and stream diversions and dams that affect the hydrology of a wetland, or cause significant vegetation damage in a wetland, are a discretionary activity and require a resource consent. You are more likely to obtain consent for lower value wetlands, for example, those dominated by certain swarding ‘cutty grasses’.
Under the Resource Management Act (RMA), the Council has to ensure the protection of wetlands. The Tasman Regional Policy Statement contains objectives and policies that outline how this will be achieved. The Tasman Resource Management Plan contains rules to implement these objectives and policies that control activities affecting wetlands such as damming, diverting and/or taking of water. This Plan also addresses effects of activities in waterbodies which are managed for the whole community. These rules apply even when the wetland is located on private land.
This Statement and Plan have already been through extensive public consultation, with farming representatives playing an active role in shaping the outcome before it was enacted in 2001. Council also has obligations to identify and protect wetlands under agreements such as the Sustainable Dairying: Water Accord. All other regions in the country are going through a similar process of wetland mapping.
The rules around wetlands have not changed since 2001. All the rules defined in the Tasman Resource Management Plan. A summary of these rules can be downloaded:
The wetlands rules allow for light grazing, taking of water for stock and other activities as long as they are minor and do not further reduce wetlands through drainage or vegetation removal.
Having a wetland identified on your property does not mean that the public can access it, unless you give them permission or there is legal access or public land providing access to it. You control access by the public to your land.
We believe it is important that Council and landowners work together to achieve the best outcome in the management of wetlands. We recognise that private landowners are the day-to-day managers and stewards of important land and natural resources of Tasman. Council is obliged to ensure wetlands on private land are not removed or degraded, unless they are of low biodiversity value. Council aims to support landowners and managers to ensure wetlands are retained and enhanced for future generations to enjoy and benefit from.
We prefer to work in partnership with landowners to protect natural values on private land; regulation and enforcement is not the preferred option.
Council Officer, Trevor James
ph. 03 543 8562