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Published: 2002-07-11 00:00:00

Environment Waikato’s Environment Committee has recommended granting $40,000 towards the purchase of land near the Miranda Shorebird Centre for a wetland habitat.

The Miranda Naturalists Trust applied for the grant from the Environmental Initiatives Fund to purchase 11 hectares and restore it to wetlands and wildlife habitat.

The Trust offers educational activities and monitors bird migration numbers at the Firth of Thames RAMSAR site, which provides habitat for flocks of migratory wading birds from New Zealand and overseas. The area played an important role in migration systems within New Zealand, with more than 20,000 pied oystercatchers from late summer, 3000 wrybill, and hundreds of banded dotterel using the area.

The Trust was concerned about growing threats to shorebird habitat along the Firth of Thames from coastal development, marine farming proposals and increased recreational pressures. The spread of mangroves had reduced nesting areas and the Trust proposed to create an artificial roosting area on the purchased land by restoring its original wetland conditions.

The project would be a joint venture with the Department of Conservation which would advise on predator and weed control and habitat restoration information.

Total purchase price was $175,000 with the Nature Heritage Trust committing $60,000 and a private trust contributing $30,000 if the balance was raised. Another party had expressed an interest in purchasing the property for private development.

The Committee heard that even a small commercial development in the area could significantly increase pressure on lands which were currently wildlife habitat.

While the Council had turned down a request in 1998 from the Trust to buy land next to the centre to upgrade the on site manager’s living quarters and create a car park.

The land would be designated a scenic reserve, and would involve the expansion of an existing facility rather than creation of a new reserve.