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New report on effects of sediments on birds

A report on the effects of sediments on coastal birds was commissioned by the Department of Conservation and has just been published. In it the known effects of marine sediment on New Zealand’s 87 seabird species and 47 shorebird species were discussed in this report. Knowledge gaps were also highlighted.

Known effects of sediment

Sedimentation events are both cumulative, where sediment accumulates slowly over time, or catastrophic, where sediment is rapidly deposited, often following severe rainfall. Both types affect seabirds and shorebirds.

The report notes that there is relatively little published literature about the effects of sediment on birds. Some information is available about how:

  • turbidity caused by sedimentation can affect seabirds that hunt visually, including terns, shags and penguins
  • sedimentation can indirectly affect seabirds and shorebirds by affecting the marine food web (especially macroinvertebrates)
  • sedimentation reduces light penetration, smothers the seafloor and changes the composition of marine ecosystems.

Use of the Resource Management Act to address sedimentation

The effects of sediment have been addressed with the Resource Management Act in several different situations. Examples included in the report are:

  • Okura Estuary urban development
  • forestry in the Marlborough Sounds and its impact on king shags/kawau
  • sedimentation in the southern Firth of Thames and its impact on shorebirds
  • regional and district plans in Otago and yellow-eyed penguin/hoiho foraging
  • New Zealand fairy terns/tara iti and mangrove removal
  • coastal birds in the Motiti Natural Environment Management Area
  • sand mining at the South Taranaki Bight
  • dredging of Port Otago and its impact on coastal birds.

To read more and/or to download the report go here, from where these words were taken.

Conference 2022 registrations are now open

We are excited to let you know that we have just opened registrations for our 2022 conference in Auckland on 16-18 March. Go to this link to book or go to our conference page if you want to find out more first.

There are early bird discounts until 24 January and a late fee applies after 25 February.

Due to Covid rules and capacity of the venue we have to limit numbers to about 90, but a waiting list will be set up.

Save the Hawkes Bay dotterels

Some avid bird lovers have banded together in Hawkes Bay and would like to start work on protecting shore birds by doing coastal restoration work in the Bayview/ Clive/ Awatoto/ Haumoana/Pourerere region. There are New Zealand Dotterels nesting in the Clive and Pourerere region which they would like to give priority. Currently, there is limited signage and virtually no cordoned off areas to protect these birds. Mostly it is volunteers who are all randomly monitoring, putting up signs that they make themselves and taking various actions on their own and they are not aware of any coordinated approach from the local councils or DOC. They have created a local Facebook group which anyone can join, “Save the Dotterels Hawkes Bay

Hawkes Bay is under-represented on our Coast Care group map and so it would be great to support them. If you would like to help with this and don’t do Facebook, please and we’ll pass on your contact details.

Update from 2021 scholarship recipient Cassandra Newman

Figure 1 Historic Shorelines at Fortrose captured by satellite imageryFigure 1 Historic Shorelines at Fortrose captured by satellite imagery

A nationwide lockdown has been an efficient way to glue me to my research over the past couple of months. I managed to capture my August UAV imagery and get back to Auckland just before the country went into lockdown. Three surveys of UAV imagery have been collected with a final due November. Because of lockdown restrictions, this survey may have to be delayed until December but if I am unable to leave Auckland until next year, the final survey trip down to Southland will be cancelled. This is not ideal as the surveys I collected in May were unusable because of doming in my imagery so I will only have my February and August surveys. With two surveys, any analysis I do between them will be ‘linear’ whereas the coastal system is not linear so shouldn’t be measured as such.

I am undertaking analysis of the sites and beginning to interpret the results I have so far. This report just highlights Figure 2: Coastal dynamics at Fortrose derived from patterns seen throughout historic shorelines.Figure 2: Coastal dynamics at Fortrose derived from patterns seen throughout historic outputs from the Fortrose site and shows an interesting observation found with my values table of Porpoise Bay.

Fortrose has been a very interesting site to investigate. This site is along the east side of the Fortrose estuary, at the mouth of the Mataura River in Southland (Fig. 1). The estuary is tidal, but the dynamics of this shoreline rely greatly on the flow of the Mataura River just before it reaches the sea. Old CAD files from the late 1800s show whole property boundaries around where transects 18 – 24 are, have been lost to erosion. In recent years, concrete, bricks, and driftwood have been pushed into the shoreline to prevent further erosion. The results of this can be seen in figure 1 where the lines representing the years 2005, 2013 and 2021 are close together. Is there a more efficient way to prevent the natural course of erosion along this shoreline than adding artificial material into the banks? If not, how do we manage Figure 3: Snapshot of Porpoise Bay magnitude values with key showing distinct cycles of erosion and accretion between each surveyFigure 3: Snapshot of Porpoise Bay magnitude values with key showing distinct cycles of erosion and accretion between each surveythe retreat of the shoreline? I look forward to investigating this site further.

A big part of GIS for me is making geographical information easy to interpret and understand no matter your background. A degree in design would have been helpful but none the less I have spent some time formatting my data output so the information they are conveying is transparent. Figure 2 shows my coastal dynamics map where I created a matrix to categorise each transect between the four dynamics: eroding, accreting, stable and unstable.

The most interesting observation I found was when analysing the Porpoise Bay magnitude and rate of change values. There is a distinction erosion / accretion cycle occurring about every 10 years. Figure 3 shows a snapshot of the magnitude values between each historic shoreline at Porpoise Bay and Figure 4 shows the average annual rate of change. The cells highlighted in browns are erosion and in green and blue are accretion. Because of the complex system Figures 3 & 4 are Figure 4: Snapshot of Porpoise Bay average annual rate of change showing distinct cycles of erosion and accretion between each surveyFigure 4: Snapshot of Porpoise Bay average annual rate of change showing distinct cycles of erosion and accretion between each surveyshowing over the years, deciphering patterns, or making predictions of this site has proven difficult.

I am over halfway through with my thesis and am enjoying this research immensely. I have learnt a lot so far, especially with different methods for collecting drone imagery and how to problem solve when things do not go the way you plan them to. The drone surveys have also captured some stunning aerial images of the shore. These images below are from the Porpoise Bay August survey. These images (plus a couple hundred more) are processed to create the 3D models of the sites.

Survey about environmental volunteering in the Manawatū

As part of her PhD in Environmental Management at Massey University, Charlotte Sextus is is inviting readers from the Manawatū to participate in a survey exploring environmental volunteering.

Community-based environmental groups make a significant contribution to biodiversity conservation in New Zealand. This survey aims to help us understand why people volunteer for environmental groups. These findings will be useful for groups seeking to recruit more volunteers to help protect our local environment.

The survey should take about 10 minutes to complete. Participation is completely voluntary, and all responses will remain completely anonymous.To participate please use the link below:

If you would prefer a printed version of the survey please just email her at or you can pick one up from the ENM office on 145 Cube st, Palmerston North.