Estuaries are more than just the mudflats that we cross on the way to the beach. Of course they have intrinsic value – what natural environment doesn’t? – but they also provide us humans with a range of ecological services that help to sustain the quality of our environment, and with amenities that we all enjoy, and sometimes profit from.
Estuaries are also threatened – and worse – by the things we do. But here’s the good part: we can manage the threat, and in some cases eliminate it. The first step is awareness, which is what this publication is all about.
Action – also described in this publication – needs to follow awareness, and this can occur on many levels: there is the individual, who can take biosecurity seriously when travelling overseas; the community group, who can plant stream banks and the estuary foreshore to intercept sediment runoff; the farmer, who can apply fertiliser at recommended rates; the regional authority, who can use predictive models to plan catchment development rationally; and central government, who can frame laws and provide resources to give teeth to resource management. We all can, and need to, play a part.
Waikaraka Estuary Managers: The Story of a Successful Landcare Group (available from the New Zealand Landcare Trust website) may inspire anybody wondering how they might go about organising their neighbours to clean up the estuary down the road.