Saltwater Paspalum threatens health of estuary

A two year study on the impact of Saltwater Paspalum (an invasive weed) has just been completed by two of our members with help from many volunteers.

Research was initially undertaken to find out about the health of the Waikawau Bay estuary and what native species lived there. The good news is that the estuary has an amazing abundance of native wildlife and predator control being undertaken by Moehau Environment Group is seeing increases in several rare or endangered bird species.

However research into the impacts of saltwater paspalum brought a very different result. At the current measured rates of spread the weed will change and threaten the estuary and its wildlife significantly within 50 years.

Saltwater Paspalum is spreading in some places upwards of 1.5m per year. Multiply that by 50 around the circumference of the estuary and you’ve got a big problem for wading birds, fish, fish spawning, and shell fish. This plant tends to build up silt and “suffocates’ the ground beneath until nothing else will grow, nor survive-such as invertebrates, which many birds and fish feed on.

The study was funded by Waikato Regional Council and a report will be presented to them in August. It is hoped the research will prompt some positive action. In the meantime, Moehau Environment Group will continue to monitor the situation.