MET hosted a presentation on native forest restoration on Saturday with Dr David Bergin from Tane’s Tree Trust and there was a great turnout of 70 people. His presentation was particularly relevant for the Manawahe area as much of our remaining forest is fragmented into pockets and this creates problems for bird movement, genetic diversity and seed dispersal. The Manawahe forests have also had decades of browsing from deer and wallaby which has reduced their diversity with many of the more palatable species having been reduced to low levels. The Manawahe kokako population is a particular case where this very small remnant population is only about 10 km from much larger and more genetically diverse populations to the west. Making links between these two populations is a huge challenge but Dave Bergin described the possibility of shelter belts of native species and small pockets of native plants acting as seed banks and also as stepping stones to facilitate bird movement.
Another idea in his presentation was the role of natural fire breaks to help protect existing forests from the increasing danger of wild fires brought about by climate change. The Chinese have been doing this quite extensively and it involves planting strips of low flammability native species such as five-finger, mahoe and wineberry.
He also emphasised the importance of controlling pest species as they make re-establishing forests very difficult as well as reducing bird numbers. Its important to remember that birds play a vital role in seed dispersal. The presence of browsers also reduces the ability of existing forests to sequester carbon and contribute to climate change.
New technologies are strengthening the armoury against pests. MET is purchasing some new tools to help with trap monitoring in the form of small electronic gadgets that sit on a trap and will contact the trapper when a trap is activated. These will be particularly useful on live cage traps which have to be checked daily in case they have caught a pest. With these new monitors the trapper will only need to visit a trap if they receive a message on their phone. This will enable a wider use of live cage traps to target things like feral cats. Another new advance that has come on the market are long-life lures that remain active for months compared to baits such as rabbit which goes off very quickly. These lures are proven to be more effective than the traditional baits like peanut butter and salted rabbit.
The Whakatane based company NZ Autotraps have reached some impressive milestones recently with 10,000 traps having been built and an expansion into a much larger factory.
Their new traps target a wide range of species and will ideally run for months without attention. They will deal to a wide range of pests including rats, possums, mice, feral cats and will also catch stoats.
Finally, spring is just around the corner so MET and MKT will be doing their baiting days in the next few weeks. MET is baiting the cell tower area on the 26th of August. This involves teams of volunteers filling hundreds of bait stations with toxin to deal to rats and possums before the birds begin nesting. If you are keen to help we would love to hear from you, please contact MET at firstname.lastname@example.org
Manawahe Eco Trust