Waterbodies and wetlands overview


2 min read

Benefits of protecting waterbodies and wetlands Regulatory requirements and futureproofing Catchment based approach Additional resources

Waterbodies and wetlands are critical parts of a farm's ecosystem. Protecting and enhancing them is an important aspect of farming.

Your farm’s waterbodies and wetlands are interconnected. Adopting an 'ecosystem health' perspective is crucial for achieving positive outcomes for them.

A number of elements on farms contribute to waterbody and wetland health. The aspects explored in these pages include crossings, drains, fencing, fish passage, wetlands, riparian planting, and water quality limits.

Benefits of protecting waterbodies and wetlands

Improved water quality

Actions such as riparian planting and setbacks can improve water quality. Riparian plants act as filters to trap contaminants such as chemicals, nutrients, sediment, and bacteria before they enter the waterway. This helps improve water quality and the suitability and habitat for creatures living in the ecosystem.

Habitat for diverse species

Water bodies and wetlands support a wide array of plant and animal species, including fish, birds, insects, amphibians, and aquatic plants. Maintaining healthy wetlands and water bodies helps preserve biodiversity.

Ecological balance

Biodiversity contributes to the ecological balance of dairy farm ecosystems. Protecting biodiversity helps maintain stability and resilience against disturbances like pests, diseases, and climate change.

Cultural and recreational value

Preserving biodiversity enhances the aesthetic and recreational value of dairy farm landscapes. Wetlands and water bodies provide opportunities for outdoor recreation and cultural activities.

Regulatory requirements and futureproofing

Some protection measures for waterbodies and wetlands are already regulatory requirements, such as stock exclusion and the N Cap. Meeting these requirements is a legal obligation; however, moving beyond current regulation by enhancing and protecting these areas improves environmental outcomes, future-proofs your farm against future regulatory changes, and enhances its overall value.

Catchment based approach

Adopting a catchment-based approach is essential for driving real change in water quality and environmental improvements. For more information, check out DairyNZ's catchment group support page.

Waterway and wetlands health extends beyond measuring containment loads. Using an ‘ecosystem health’ lens, which refers to the overall condition and resilience of an ecosystem, including its biodiversity, along with tools like eDNA, provides a more holistic understanding of the ecosystem's health.

These pages offer insights into various ways to protect and improve water bodies and wetlands.

Explore how DairyNZ and farmers are working towards better water quality and environmental outcomes with research projects and regional projects.

Last updated: May 2024

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