Outdoor learning . . . Sinclair Wetlands welcomes hundreds of school children each year on class trips. PHOTO: JOHN BARKLA

Having an on-site co-ordinator has cemented the Sinclair Wetlands’ status as a jewel in the crown of Dunedin’s natural environment.

Glen Riley, who has lived and worked at the Sinclair Wetlands/Te Nohoaka o Tukiauau, on the western side of Lake Waipori, since 2013, has focused his full-time efforts on the wetlands for the past two years.

Having him on-site full-time has led to a marked increase in the involvement of volunteers in the wetland, visits by hundreds of schoolchildren and local people, and a steady programme of planting.

In 2017, the Sinclair Wetlands were supported through 4457 volunteer hours, or about 93 hours per week, volunteers including students, club members and local business employees.

“Volunteers are vital to our work, so we are very geared up to work with them and to ensure there are tasks to suit everyone,” Mr Riley said.

Planting and the care of new plants were important aspects of volunteering, and 4586 native shrubs and trees had been planted in 2017.

The wetlands’ popularity as a destination continued to grow in 2017, 691 school children visiting, as well as 728 members of visiting groups.

Mr Riley’s presence has also boosted the programme to trap predators – 132 predators were trapped in 2017, up from 57 in 2016.

A boom in the rabbit population had brought extra stoats and weasels, meaning trapping was vital.

“We put a lot of effort into predator control, which is really paying off in terms of our bird numbers.”

A new partnership between the Sinclair Wetlands/Te Nohoaka o Tukiauau and Pan Pac Forest Products’ Milburn sawmill will be highlighted this weekend for World Wetlands Day.

Mr Riley will co-ordinate a public tree-planting day at the sawmill site, in Limeworks Rd, Milburn, from 10.30am to 4pm this Saturday, February 3.

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World Wetlands Day is celebrated annually on February 2.