Wetlands are 'climate heroes' - they are a major carbon sink and increase the resilience of communities against floods and storms. Wetlands are uniquely biodiverse, while also contributing to human health through recreation and kai Māori. OraTaiao has collaborated with Forest & Bird to create a pamphlet outlining actions the Government must take to protect wetlands.
Urgent action is needed to prevent further degradation of remaining wetlands. In 2021, the Government proposed ‘additional consenting pathways’ giving industries, including coal mining, the ability to destroy wetlands. A decision on this is expected in the first quarter of 2022. Six key actions the government must take are:
- Double the extent of natural wetlands by 2050 with interim goals.
- Establish and implement an Aotearoa Wetland Protection and Restoration Plan for carbon sequestration and the mitigation of climate change effects with ambitious, measurable, and enforceable regional targets.
- Provide $100 million of additional government funding in the next four years to establish seed funding for new wetland restoration and paludiculture trials.
- Map current and historical mangrove, salt marsh, and sea grass extent by 2030.
- Require land managers to account for drained wetlands in the Emissions Trading Scheme, and protect and restore wetlands as emission reduction mechanisms in Farm Environment Plans.
- Stop the current destruction of wetlands by agriculture, urban development, mining, quarrying, and landfills by ensuring existing regulations are not watered down – and are properly enforced.
OraTaiao is endorsing Forest & Bird's campaign to protect and enhance wetlands in Aotearoa New Zealand. For more information on the campaign see here.