Thursday, November 26, 2009

Wetlands will save us

I love wetlands. i used to drive tourists out onetahua (farewell spit) and as they were with me for 6.5 hours - i got to talk about quite a few topics, including flora, fauna, geography, history, context and connection.

Look at this photo - doesn't the whole area look like a kiwi head with farewell spit being the beak? This photo shows the extent of the wetland, at high tide the spit is one kilometre across and at low tide another 6-7 kilometres of wetland is exposed.

Onetahua - Farewell Spit

The average tide in Mohua (Golden Bay) is over 4 metres - that's 12 foot of water going in and out twice a day - it creates a magnificent wetland area. So much diversity and life and so fragile.

Destroying wetlands is stupid.

This decision here to build more marinas, against the wishes of conservationists and local maori is wrong. Keys assertion that more marinas will be built is shocking.
"Environmental groups and local Maori have fought the 205-berth marina, built on a salt marsh that used to be home for dotterels and skinks."
A good link from NickS in the comments on the Standard on this issue.
"... the 1997 review paper form Daily et al, ECOSYSTEM SERVICES: Benefits Supplied to Human Societies by Natural Ecosystems, of which pg 9 has some of the relevant details."
Page nine
"Wetlands are particularly well-known for their role in flood control and can often reduce the need to construct flood control structures. Floodplain forests and high salt marshes, for example, slow the flow of floodwaters and allow sediments to be deposited within the floodplain rather than washed into downstream bays or oceans."
And it happens in many areas, not just this country, as discussed in this article The Cultural Impact of Eroding Wetlands from Colourlines
"Brenda Dardar Robichaux, now principal chief of the Houma Nation based about 60 miles southwest of New Orleans, has fond childhood memories of helping her father, Whitney Dardar, on his shrimp boat, though as a teen she would often protest the hard work and long hours. Dardar, now 73, still shrimps, but he is driven by passion rather than profit, since profits are now scant thanks to environmental degradation and competition from shrimp farms and bulk imports. He knows his grandsons will not follow in his footsteps but instead will likely work in the same offshore oil fields that have helped destroy the traditional Houma way of life."
"Recently, environmental, industrial and economic factors have converged to make traditional subsistence practices unsustainable or even impossible for most Native Americans in this region. The main culprit is the rapid erosion of wetlands and hence the solid land that once sustained farming and provided habitat for nutria, mink, muskrat and other animals that Native Americans would trap for food and fur. The wetland loss is attributed largely to the oil and gas industry, which has cut thousands of miles of canals through the wetlands to service their offshore operations. The degradation has also long been caused by the canalization of the Mississippi River, confined by levees so it can no longer ramble and switch course from year to year, depositing sediment and replenishing land in the process."
"The wetland erosion has meant the incursion of saltwater into previously fresher areas, making the land too salty for planting and impacting fish and shellfish. The increasing salinity has seriously impacted the oyster trade that used to be a major winter-time income for Natives. Marine organisms are also harmed by the dead zone created by nutrients from fertilizer funneled south from Midwestern farmland by the Mississippi River, feeding massive algal blooms that suck up oxygen in an 8,000 square mile section of the gulf."
The value of wetlands cannot be estimated because they are actually invaluable. They provide a wonderful ecosystem that is neither land nor sea, the reduce flooding, they sustain a massive biomass not far off a tropical rainforest, they are sparce and beautiful and need to be protected.

Hat tip The Standard and Colourlines

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