Planting a low cost wetland

Low Cost Wetland Construction

Wetlands – With Descriptor

About the project

We want to promote the advantages of on-farm wetlands for improving water quality, creating habitats for wildlife as well as enhancing the attractiveness and value of rural properties. The project aimed to demonstrate how effective wetlands can be constructed at low cost.

Partnering with Northland Fish and Game, Living Water and Northland Regional Council held a one-day workshop in February 2015 with internationally renowned wetland expert Tom Biebighauser covering the benefits of wetlands, practical advice on selecting the best type of wetland, and information on construction regulations.

Participants then visited a local farm to observe the construction of three small wetlands supervised by Tom Biebighauser, which included practical tips about selecting a site, choosing the right construction method and ensuring construction standards are met.  

This project provided the opportunity to share the goal of promoting and scaling up water quality improvement and freshwater ecosystem health within agricultural landscapes. Demonstrating low cost wetland construction methods is one way to encourage landowners to undertake and fund wetland construction projects.   

FIsh and Game Logo


  • Demonstrating what can be achieved at a lower cost to remove barriers around affordability and encourage more farmers to build wetlands.

  • Improved water quality and habitat for wildlife in agricultural landscapes


  • Three low cost wetlands were successfully constructed on a farm in one day in February 2015. Native plants were provided, the site prepared, and a group of students from Kamo High School’s Agriculture Programme helped with planting around the wetlands to further enhance wildlife habitat.
  • Step by Step video guide produced (also below).
  • Monitoring to check on native plant survival and to make sure the wetlands are still holding water have been ongoing.

Step by step guide to building a low cost wetland

Watch and learn how to build a low cost underground dam wetland in this step by step guide.

Low cost wetland

One day workshop

Progress: 100%

Low cost wetland 1 year on