National riparian restoration database project

Riparian planting [Photo: NIWA]

The issue

New Zealanders are investing large amounts of time, energy and money into riparian fencing and planting, yet there are surprisingly few New Zealand case studies providing information about how different approaches to riparian planting influence improvements in water quality and stream life. NIWA wants to change that by undertaking a five-year nationwide study to find out what approaches work best and to provide better guidance to the people and groups undertaking stream restoration.

The approach

In the first year of the project NIWA wants to register as many riparian projects as possible. We need farmers, community groups, iwi and others involved in stream restoration help to make this happen by registering their riparian project through a short survey at We want to find out just how much is being invested and what a typical riparian project is like—how long, how wide, where it is located, how it is being supported and what the main goal is. This information will form the basis of the National Riparian Restoration Database.

Once we have recorded as many riparian projects as we can we will select a few of them and train, equip and support volunteers to monitor them. The citizen scientist or group would need to commit about 23 hours per month for a period of 12–18 months. NIWA will provide all the equipment and training needed. People and groups can register their interest in becoming a citizen scientist while filling out the survey or by emailing [email protected].nz.

Within this project we are also developing a range of resources to better support volunteer stream monitoring in New Zealand. This includes:

  • Upgrading NIWA’s Stream Health Monitoring and Assessment Kit to make use of new technologies and scientific methods
  • Improving training resources, including online videos, field manuals
  • Developing a web-based database for volunteers to store their data, view summaries of what they have found, see changes over time and compare their data to others in their area and across New Zealand
  • Working with councils and environmental groups to provide better field support, funding opportunities and communication with other stream monitors.

The project is funded through the Strategic Science Investment Fund from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment. 

Page last updated: 
27 September 2017