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Monthly update October 2020

New Administrator for the MET

Kia ora, my name is Hannah Flatman and I am very excited to have joined the Manawahe Eco Trust working part-time as the administrator. I come from a conservation background, having worked for DOC as a biodiversity ranger for 7 years and more recently working for the Whakatāne Kiwi Trust. I’m looking forward to being a part of all the great work that the MET undertakes at the education centre!

Education report from the Manawahe Eco trust

It has been great to have the centre buzzing again with students over the last two weeks.

Over 190 students have been through the centre since the start of term 4. The garden is again starting to look great with small gardens being created by students. The plants that have been planted by Whakatane Intermediate this week were grown by the Special Education centre at Trident.

Whakatane Intermediate school are really supporting the centre with 10 classes visiting this term. Part of the programme has the students doing an Environmental adventure challenge. This involves them racing each other around the centre and then into Pippa Strong’s lovely glade.

Also visiting this term are Awakeri year 3’s for a two night camp, Tarawera high school’s special learning centre and James street school Year 0 to 2’s.

We have recently had new signs set up either side of the school, they are signs that can close when they are not needed. As locals if you see the sign please drive carefully around the school as there will be students out and about.

Thanks

Helen Dobbin

Environmental Educator

Manawahe Eco trust

Project Co-ordinator’s Report

Wallaby have been in the Manawahe area for many years but they have now expanded their range right through the Manawahe corridor to the sea at Matata. Wallaby are a biodiversity threat due to their grazing of forest seedlings preventing regeneration and altering the species composition so changing the pattern of forest succession. Vegetation surveys at Ōkataina near Rotorua showed heavy browsing by dama wallabies reduced plant diversity by over 50%.

In exotic plantations, dama wallabies can damage pine and eucalyptus seedlings. On farmland they can compete with livestock for pasture.

Our use of trail cameras revealed numbers of wallaby throughout the cell tower block. Our concern is that, despite having achieved good control of possums and rats, wallaby are undermining our conservation gains by limiting forest recovery

In order to find a method to control wallaby MET ran a trial comparing kill traps, bait stations and strikers (cereal wax blocks) stapled to trees. We had cameras recording the interactions and ran this for about 8 weeks. The trial showed that the bait stations and strikers have the potential to kill wallaby but the traps were not successful.

The Regional Council’s new Pest Management Plan has Manawahe within the containment area. Their main wallaby control effort will be focused on eradication of the satellite populations outside the containment area so no control effort was planned for Manawahe. MET and MKT were disappointed with this approach and have approached the Regional Council requesting assistance to get some wallaby control measures within the Manawahe corridor. We had great support from Councillor Bill Clark and have gained some traction with the staff in Rotorua.

The latest development is that we had an onsite meeting with MET, MKT and staff from Rotorua Regional Council at the Cell Tower. The aim was to look at the sites and start to develop an achievable wallaby control plan. MET and MKT are asking for both materials and contractor time to run a wallaby reduction programme. We are awaiting a response from the Regional Council.

Landowners may be interested in using feratox strikers on their properties and Met would be happy to support any landowners wanting to try these out.

Feral Cats

Our cameras also show that feral cats are widespread in the Manawahe bush areas. These are in areas kilometres away from any houses so these are wild cats and will be having a significant impact on native wildlife. The best control option seems to be live cage traps and MET has a few of these available to lend to landowners. Please contact MET if you would like to borrow a cage trap.