Quarries may not seem a likely source of support for wetlands but the industry says it does a lot towards creating what is today being celebrated on World Wetlands Day.
Aggregate and Quarry Association CEO, Wayne Scott, says quarries around the country have helped create and expand wetlands, creating havens for flora and fauna, improving water quality and sometimes developing community assets.
In Auckland, listed wetlands include a couple of former quarries. There’s a walking circuit in Mt Wellington around the Stonefields Heritage Trail which includes an old quarry rockface. The Manawa wetland in New Lynn was created in an abandoned clay quarry.
“Here in Wellington, the region’s biggest-ever infrastructure project has helped create a restored wetland. Willowbank farm near Pāuatahanui resumed quarrying to contribute material to the much-delayed Transmission Gully project.
Wayne Scott says the quarry had not been used since the late ’90s and about 700 metres of stream had been covered over with rocks and boulders.
“Today, tens of thousands of native plants call it home. The wetlands have been restored and clear water flows in the quarry’s outlet stream.”
Waikato quarryman, Kerry Reilly, bought a greenfield site at Meremere in 1999 near the Waikato River. Adjoining the site was a farm and beyond that the world heritage Whangamarino Wetland at 7,200 hectares, the second largest in the North Island.
Reilly observed climate change was already starting to impact with weather bombs causing enormous runoff, even before he started excavating the site. He approached the neighbouring farmer, Peter Buckley, who happened to be chair of the Waikato Regional Council, proposing to build a wetland at the quarry’s cost on his land. Buckley agreed. Power generator Mighty River Power paid for 15,000 native plants.
Kerry Reilly won the 2019 Caernarfon Award for the best international paper submitted to the global Institute of Quarrying about his work at Meremere.
Reilly says most quarries these days are planting trees and shrubs and increasingly developing wetlands.
“Look at what Lady Isaac achieved down in Christchurch. You’ve got to have a balance. My wetlands, like hers, are just a legacy that goes on.”
As a quarry reclamation project, Peacock Springs near Christchurch Airport is internationally recognised as the best of its kind. It provides ideal habitat for freshwater species and the water bodies supply aviaries containing endangered endemic bird species.
Wayne Scott says today’s quarrying companies often initiate work to create wetlands and sometimes these emerge out of resource consent processes with councils.
“What we are saying is forget the idea about quarries leaving holes in the ground. When they are created, these often become wetlands and other community assets which benefit the environment and our way of life.”
“Quarry operators know how important wetlands are to our environment and will continue to work with councils and government agencies to keep creating them.”
Contact: Wayne Scott, CEO Aggregate and Quarry Association 021 944 336.
Kerry Reilly’s award-winning wetlands at his former Meremere Quarry.
The restored stream feeding into wetlands at Willowbank farm quarry which supplies Transmission Gully.