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Wednesday 13th Nov,  10:30am



  • Nathan Dougherty
    Environment Canterbury

Lessons learned from a Canterbury incident


New Zealand's wetland ecosystems continue to be under threat from 'development.'

People frequently state that 90% of New Zealand's wetlands have been destroyed. However, this statistic was first produced many years ago - since then, all indications are that much of the remaining percentage in Canterbury has been destroyed. Protecting the wetlands that remain is of vital importance.

During May 2017 Environment Canterbury began investigating the excavation of a large trench through a small but important wetland in the Malvern hills, to the west of Christchurch and above the Canterbury plains. The valley has a significant population of the threatened Canterbury Mudfish - of which the wetland could be useful habitat.

The presentation describes lessons learned through the process of protecting the wetland from further damage, and the steps taken to repair it. Much of the work so far has been carried out without the basis of prior experience - there is little information published on how to achieve wetland rehabilitation.

While enforcement action was an important tool in achieving a positive outcome, so were other softer measures. Work to ensure the habitat is rehabilitated will be ongoing, but I am optimistic that the wetlands degradation has been halted and it will flourish again.

Nathan Dougherty
Senior Incident Response Officer, Environment Canterbury


I have been in a variety of RMA compliance roles at Environment Canterbury for 17 years - from consent monitoring, technical leadership, and incident response. I developed the Erosion and Sediment Control Toolbox for Canterbury.


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