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  • Management and Research Priorities for New Zealand Braided Rivers

    Posted on April 17, 2017 by in Department of Conservation, DOC, Fresh water management, Research

    The Department of Conservation’s Management and Research Priorities for New Zealand Braided Rivers (DOC 3MB PDF) is now available


    The distinguishing feature of braided rivers is that they have, over at least some part of their length, multiple, mobile channels that ow across a gravel floodplain. Braided rivers occur widely in New Zealand, but particularly in the South Island. Features characteristic of braided rivers include flowing channels, backwaters, seepages and associated spring creeks as well as terrestrial islands, shingle bars, lake deltas and adjacent flood plain terraces.

    Braided rivers in New Zealand support unique communities of plants and animals and many threatened species. However, these communities are subject to a number of threats, particularly predation, weed invasion, water abstraction, dams, modified flow regimes for electricity generation, flood protection works and human recreational activities on rivers. The result of these activities is that biodiversity values in braided rivers are in decline. However, in recent years, public awareness of the biodiversity values of braided rivers and threats to these values has increased. The number of initiatives to undertake conservation work within braided rivers has likewise increased. At the same time, greater demands are being placed on braided rivers, particularly as sources of water for irrigation and hydro development, but also for gravel extraction and recreational purposes such as jet-boating, four-wheel driving and fishing.

    The vision for biodiversity recovery is that New Zealanders will value and enjoy braided river ecosystems as a unique and integral part of their natural heritage. People with an interest in conservation, management or use of braided rivers will support ongoing, sustainable local conservation programmes, and these will be demonstrably successful in maintaining and improving indigenous biodiversity of braided rivers. This document emphasises ecosystem and multi-species approaches to addressing the decline in biodiversity values, with a focus on conserving indigenous species that specifically depend on braided rivers (including a range of threatened species).

    Current knowledge of the biodiversity values of braided rivers and the conservation management of these values is extensive. However, there is a clear need to improve conservation outcomes for braided river ecosystems and species through the development of a better understanding of the ecology of braided rivers and the development of more effective management tools.

    This document aims to assist this process by providing guidance on current ‘good practice’ for managing biodiversity on and in braided rivers, priorities for management and future research, and by promoting co-operation among a range of stakeholders (including all levels of government, institutions, iwi, community groups, and local people and businesses) to conserve braided river ecosystems and species.Specifically, this document:

    • Describes a vision for the conservation of biodiversity on braided rivers.
    • Provides an overview of the biodiversity values of braided rivers and the factors that influence them, in the context of conservation of indigenous biodiversity, and particularly threatened species.
    • Summarises current ‘good practice’ for managing biodiversity on braided rivers and uses a range of case studies as examples.
    • Identifies and prioritises specific management and future research actions in relation to the main threats that directly impact braided river biodiversity.


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