Lots of people have asked us what percentage of New Zealand’s waterways is one million metres. For us a million metres – 1,000 km – is for both sides of the waterway, so in terms of waterway length it’s 500 km. That’s only 0.1% of New Zealand’s 425,000 km of rivers and streams*. That 425,000 km doesn’t include lakes (of which 3,820 are greater than one ha) and wetlands.
But hang on a minute, not all 425,000 km are polluted are they? That’s right, 51% (216,750 km) of that length have natural vegetation cover such as native bush or alpine rock and tussock and are not likely to be polluted. However 49% (208,250 km) of that length are in catchments that are likely to be polluted – lowland areas that are used for agriculture, forestry and urban settlement. Additionally, about 40% of lakes are also in catchments where the predominant land cover is pasture.
So, a million metres of planted streambank (500 km of waterway) is actually 0.24% of the 208,250 km** of the modified lowland waterways. Lots of farmers, community groups and other landowners have already made a start with restoration; our million metres we hope will speed things up a bit. And to make that happen we all need to work together to restore the lifeblood to our waterways.
* Figures from the Ministry for the Environment.
** Scientists usually use whole rivers or streams, rather than kms of waterway, as a unit of measure. See the info Dr Mike Joy of Massey University has shared quantifying rivers and streams that are actually polluted.
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