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Published: 2010-12-14 00:00:00

People using areas near the coasts of the Waikato region this summer are being asked to be careful not to damage salt marsh.

These marsh areas, often seen as “waste lands”, are in fact an important part of coastal vegetation, says Whitianga-based harbour and catchment management co-ordinator Emily O’Donnell.

“These areas aren’t really for recreation purposes, but they have a very important environmental role and influence recreation values like fish abundance,” said Ms O’Donnell.

“Salt marsh helps trap sediment and other material that can contaminate water bodies.

“It is also an important habitat for rare and threatened bird species such as the banded rail and Australasian bittern.”

Ms O’Donnell appealed for people to tread carefully in salt marshes and to stay away  with vehicles. Vehicles should not be accessing the coastal marine area unless authorised to do so .

“These areas are easily damaged and take years and years to recover. We need to stop thinking of them as waste lands and think of them as important wild lands.”