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Forest back in native species

?A visit to see the conversion back to native of the Maungataniwha Pine Forest was a highlight of the East Coast Hawke’s Bay Te Tairawhiti ki Te Matau-a-Maui Conservation Board’s quarterly meeting.

The board travelled to Maungataniwha Station in northern Hawke’s Bay to see first hand the results of a successful relationship with the Department of Conservation (DoC). More than 3500 hectares of the Maungataniwha Pine Forest have been logged since 2006 and are being reforested back to native species by landowner Simon Hall, chairman of the Forest Lifeforce Restoration Trust (FLRT).

The land lies adjacent to the Maungataniwha Native Forest, a 6120-hectare swathe of New Zealand bush straddling the ridge system between the Te Hoe and Waiau Rivers in northern Hawke’s Bay, bordered to the north by Te Urewera and to the west by the Whirinaki Conservation Forest.

Station manager and FLRT trustee Pete Shaw explained to the Board that the conversion of the Maungataniwha Pine Forest is the largest project of it’s kind in New Zealand. About a third of the area, 1400 hectares, can now be described as clear of regenerating pines and successfully regenerated with native species.

Board member Penny Shaw said the trust used a mix of aerial spraying and manual clearance methods.

DoC is interested in the land stewardship methods and spray mix used to encourage the growth of native plants while inhibiting ‘wilding’ pines.

Mr Hall said conservation in New Zealand was no longer the preserve of government agencies.

“The job is too big and complex. Everyone has a role to play, ideally working together as much as they can.”

The trust had been delighted with, and very grateful for, the support of DoC, he said.

During the tour of the property, the board saw sites of some of the various FLRT projects, including various stages in the native bush restoration generation since 2006 and the extensive predator control operation, including the establishment of a 600ha sanctuary for a variety of native bird species.

The board also heard about the BNZ Operation Nest Egg, which has now seen more than 300 kiwi chicks hatched and released into the wild at Otanewainuku, the Whirinaki, the Kaweka Ranges and into captive breeding programmes.

Mr Shaw said to consider the 59 eggs that were taken for incubation from the Maungataniwha Native Forest adjacent to Te Urewera National Park, 44 resulted in birds that hatched and were reared to release as part of the nationwide kiwi conservation initiative.

“This contrasts starkly with the 5 percent chance that kiwi have of making it to adulthood if their eggs are left in the bush unprotected against predators.”

The board saw another major project which aims to increase the wild-grown population of kakabeak or ngutukaka (Clianthus maximus) — an extremely rare native shrub.

They also saw a specimen of another threatened native plant, the scarlet mistletoe (Peraxilla colensoi), a semi-parasitic plant hosted on beech trees and favoured by predators.

THE BOARD: East Coast Hawke’s Bay Te Tairawhiti ki Te Matau-a-Maui Conservation Board’s quarterly meeting included a trip to Maungataniwha Station. Pictured at Waiau Camp are (from left) station manager Pete Shaw (Forest Lifeforce Restoration Trustee), East Coast Hawke’s Bay Conservation Board members Penny Shaw, Lucy Meagher, Jo Blakeley, Marijke Warmenhoven and Connie Norgate, and (back, from left) DoC regional operations managers John Lucas with Gus Garaway (FLRT volunteer), DoC lower North Island statutory manager Chris Visser and board member Rapihana Te Kaha Hawaikirangi. Picture by Barry Crene
RARE NATIVE: The board heard about a major project that aims to increase the wild-grown population of kakabeak or ngutukaka (Clianthus maximus), an extremely rare native shrub. Picture supplied