Wetlands: What are they and why are they so important?

A wetland is an area of land where the water naturally sits above the soil; or is present at ground level throughout the year – or at certain seasonable times.

Wetlands are an essential, natural tool when it comes to water quality. Often called the earth’s kidneys, wetlands help to cleanse the soil around them, filtering out the nasties and helping to create better water and land quality in a simplistic form – just like kidneys extract the nasties out of the blood of a body, and send it back through the system much cleaner.

Providing a home for natural habitats, wetlands provide a great space for trees, native plants, wildlife and more. Wetlands also offer an idyllic space for birdlife. Throughout the country, there are a number of suggested plants that are best for constructed wetlands – check out our Wetlands Plant Guide to find out more.

Example of a New Zealand wetland

By any other name…

Wetlands can be known by many other names, including swamps, bogs, mangroves, and floodplains. Peatlands are also wetlands in predominantly peat areas. While some wetlands look lush, green and bushy, other wetlands can be full of heavy mosses and swampy areas. 

Online wetland handbook

Te Reo o Te Repo – the Voice of the Wetland is an online wetland handbook created collaboratively between the Waikato Raupatu River Trust and Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research, funded mainly by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) Wetland Restoration Programme. A copy of the handbook can be downloaded here: https://www.landcareresearch.co.nz/publications/te-reo-o-te-repo/

Example of a New Zealand wetland near a hill
Constructed Wetlands

A workshop held to demonstrate to landowners and support agencies the process of constructing a wetland can be viewed here:

Managing Wetlands as Farm Assets

A project working with farmers to provide advice and share knowledge about the range of benefits wetlands offer the farming system and wider community.

Managing Wetlands as Farm Assets.