|dc.description.abstract||In New Zealand, the ecological functionality of freshwater systems have been significantly affected by agricultural intensification. This decline in freshwater health is such that it is now considered one of the country’s most pressing environmental issues. As freshwater quality is a complex problem there is no one solution. However, establishing wetlands is a recognised method for improving freshwater health. Unfortunately, a large number of wetlands in New Zealand have been modified through drainage and agricultural development, and many others have been degraded. Thus, it is important to identify ways in which to work effectively with farmers to address these issues. While some research exists on the restoration of functioning ecosystems on farms, there are few studies on the restoration of wetland ecological function on New Zealand farms. Therefore, the purpose of this research is to investigate the barriers to, and the opportunities for, restoring wetland ecological function on privately-owned New Zealand farms.
Data was collected at a national level through an online survey, and at a finer scale through eight case study farms which had established, or intended to establish, wetlands. The study revealed that economic factors had less influence on farmers’ decisions to restore ecological function than suggested by previous research, with land characteristics and personal characteristics being the most significant influences. Additionally, it was found that farmers were not necessarily motivated to establish wetlands for environmental benefits; their motivations changed as wetland projects progressed; and their lack of disposal time had a significant negative effect on wetland creation. Importantly, this research also showed that farmers who were able to align wetland projects with their personal and business goals were more likely to establish wetlands.||