Many of the world's ecosystems have undergone significant degradation with negative impacts on biological diversity and peoples' livelihoods. There is now a growing realisation that we will not be able to conserve the earth's biological diversity through the protection of critical areas alone.
Ecological restoration aims to recreate, initiate, or accelerate the recovery of an ecosystem that has been disturbed. Disturbances are environmental changes that alter ecosystem structure and function. Common disturbances include logging, damming rivers, intense grazing, hurricanes, floods, and fires.
We cannot undo what has been done, but there are various ecological restoration projects we can get involved in to help reverse some of the damage and mitigate the ongoing impact.
Revegetation (replanting and rebuilding the soil of disturbed land) is one of the simplest ways we can help. Thus revegetation helps restore, improve, or create particular ecosystem functions, such as pollination or erosion control.
Wanaka is leading the way in revegetation projects. As a small town deep in the mountains, there’s no point waiting for someone else to do it for you. When it comes to sustainability, Wanaka residents have a do-it-yourself attitude which makes things happen quickly.
As Wanaka and Hawea continued to expand, green spaces gave way to residential developments, community facilities and shopping areas. Conscious of the need for sustainability and to restore an eco-system for native flora and fauna, local volunteers started planting natives trees on nearby islands.
Mou Waho is a striking island close to the centre of Lake Wanaka, which is known for having its own lake, which in turn has its own islands. Islands on a lake on an island on a lake. Not only is Mou Whao providing a sanctuary for native birds it is attracting eco tourists, providing further revenue for the town and securing funding for ongoing revegetation activities.
Get involved people! There are hundreds of community restoration groups and individual landowners in New Zealand dedicating time and effort to restore our native ecosystems. For more information and details of projects in your neighbourhood visit Nature Space – www.naturespace.co.nz.