SOUTHLAND landowners working to protect native biodiversity met on Sunday to celebrate World Wetland Day.
QEII Southland regional representative Jesse Bythell said those with protected properties gathered to visit a forest wetland.
The charity worked with landowners to protect native biodiversity permanently.
Mokotua farmers Ron and Gay Munro protected 60ha of their property more than 30 years ago.
Ms Bythell said the day allowed for a celebration of the work they had done.
The importance of wetlands was two-fold, she said.
“They are incredibly biodiverse.
“Humans, we don’t always appreciate wetlands. We sometimes see them as a soggy paddock or not very useful to us.”
They also acted as a sponge, helpful for draining after intense weather events.
New Zealand had lost 90% of its wetland and Southland lost about 30ha a year, she said.
Mrs Munro said the farm was called Manuka Mire as there was lots of manuka and it was basically a swamp.
“It’s got lots of natural character to it that we love.”
They farmed two-thirds of their property and one-third was kept in its native state.
Instead of fencing the property, they created a moat around the protected area, which attracted many species of birds and insects.
It also was home to native species of fish, such as giant kokopu and longfin eel.
“Nature has a real peace about it. People are talking more about human well-being and the importance of getting out in nature.”