You are not permitted to download, save or email this image. Visit image gallery to purchase the image.
Formed in October last year, as a response to the Dunedin City Council’s proposal to install a landfill at Smooth Hill, the trust aims to restore and protect the habitats of the creek and marsh for the many native species who call it home.
The Otago Regional Council has named Otokia a regionally significant wetland and, in December, awarded the trust a $21,659 Eco Fund grant for its ongoing protection efforts, community engagement, and establishing a native plant nursery.
The creek has a catchment area of 27.1sq km, which includes farms, exotic forestry, lifestyle blocks, and areas of scrub and gorse on Department of Conservation land.
As Otokia creek reaches the flat, about 3km from Brighton beach, it widens out and slows down into an estuary with extensive marsh areas.
Creek and Marsh Habitat Trust members Simon Laing (chairman), Matthew York (secretary), Dr Viktoria Kahui (treasurer), Dr Andy Hutcheon, and Ann-Claire Mauger, have been working with volunteers Kris Mullen of Wildwood Ecoforestry, Colin Astle, and others, to plant natives, cut gorse and clear weeds.
Since late 2020, more than 200 volunteer hours have been spent on native restoration and monitoring, and more than 500 native species planted.
Dr Kahui, who is also an environmental economist, said the group’s aim was "to not only conserve the habitat, but to benefit the people of Brighton — we want to be able to provide access, so people can utilise it".
"Having the marsh here is very special — the birdlife in the area is amazing."
Kris Mullen of Wildwood Ecoforestry started planting natives in the area more than eight years ago, and has been delighted to see the project gaining momentum and support within the Brighton community.
Dr Kahui said wetlands provided important "ecosystem services", including habitat for fish and birds, areas for recreation, water filtration and flood protection.
Wetlands worldwide and in New Zealand were under threat, and recently-introduced government legislation to deal with the continued loss of river quality and habitat was welcome, Dr Kahui said.
"But regulation is only a first step, we need a more flexible management system that can deal with the future challenges of climate change."