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Group feature: Cooks Beachcare Group

The Cooks Beachcare Group consists of residents and ratepayers working in partnership with local Government agencies to protect valuable dunes at the western end of this Mercury Bay beach (~1.3 km). The group aims to replace invasive exotic weeds with naturally occurring native plants in consultation with local residents and without significantly restricting views or beach access. The land is esplanade reserve, managed by Thames Coromandel District Council (TCDC) who assist as required.  Following site preparation, native plants, such as, pingao and knobby club rush are planted to help protect the dunes and repair storm damage. These native plants also support nesting sites of NZ Dotteral and Variable Oystercatcher, and provide refuge for lizards and insects such as the coastal copper butterfly.   Check out the group at www.cooksbeachcare.org.nz

Tim Newton of Green Footprint Tree Care installing a bat home. This work requires serious tree climbing skills. Photo by Sabine Pahl

Bats in Mangaiti gully

Restoration is much more than just pulling weeds and planting native plants. The Mangaiti Gully Restoration Trust tackles restoration in a very holistic way.
Rex Bushell, coordinator of the Trust is keen on encouraging the return of native creatures.  “The reason we want native bush back in Hamilton gullies is so that it supports native and endemic fauna species,” he said. 

The Trust has a number of programmes in place to support this objective. “Eradicating resident rats and possums and controlling reinvasion has resulted in a very successful tūī breeding season last year. You know you are on the right track when people who live on the gully say that they see and hear more native birds in the gully than they do when they visit the bush elsewhere in New Zealand,” Rex said. The Trust has a long term planting programme to encourage kererū, (native wood pigeons) back into the city. There are the endemic long finned eel which are classified as nationally at-risk/declining and there are giant and banded kōkopu in the stream. Stream planting programmes and management to support these species and an understanding of their requirements are an import part of any native forest restoration.  Rex said that the most exciting recent news is the identification in the gully of the New Zealand long-tailed bat or pekapeka. For some years now there has been a city wide bat survey and until last year it recorded them only in the south of the city. However in 2018 one fly-past was recorded in the Mangaiti gully and this year two were recorded. With these encouraging signs the Trust has set up a programme to install twelve bat homes (roosting boxes) in 1.6 km of the gully running from Thomas Road to Wairere Drive. The long-tailed bat can be found throughout New Zealand in varying habitats, but numbers are declining because of the removal of trees, predation by pests such as rats and stoats and competition for a diminishing number of roosting sites with other animals and birds. Hamilton is one of the few cities in New Zealand that supports a resident bat population. Because they fly at night few people are aware of them. Long-tail bats are capable of long distance flight and are nomadic. They do not stay in one roost site like many overseas bat colonies but move among a number of roosts. During breeding season the colonies may split up with males and females occupying different roosts. “These are really interesting little fellows” said Rex. “Their body size is only slightly bigger than a mouse, so they are very small compared to other bats.” This restoration work is happening right here in Hamilton’s Huntington suburb. If you feel you would like to be involved in this type of project the Trust runs working bees every Wednesday morning. For more information contact Rex Bushell on phone 854-0973 / 021-237-3857 or email gullyrestoration@gmail.com. You might also like to check out their website http://gullyrestoration.blogspot.com/

Weedbusting team working in a bush reserve clearing privet

Restoration Tips: Weedbusters website

 The Weedbusters website is a great resource and “go to place”  for checking out which plants are weeds and how to control them.  Weedbusters is about working together to stop weedy plants taking over New Zealand's amazing natural areas. Weedy plants are one of the greatest threats to New Zealand’s parks, reserves, coasts, bush remnants, wetlands and alpine areas. Many of these weeds are ornamental plants that have ‘jumped the fence’ from gardens and gone wild. It costs councils, government departments and private landowners millions of dollars, and volunteers and community groups thousands of unpaid hours, to control these weeds every year.  Check out the website and see what you can do to help stop the spread of these invasive plants - you can make a big difference!      

Group feature: Karioi – Maunga ki te Moana Project

The Karioi – Maunga ki te Moana: Mountain to the Sea project is a community led conservation project based in Raglan, run in partnership with A Rocha Aotearoa New Zealand, Tainui Hapu, Te Whakaoranga O Karioi, Whaingaroa Environment Centre, Department of Conservation, Waikato Regional Council and the Whaingaroa Community.

The project’s vision is “To restore biodiversity from the mountain to the sea.” The project mission is – “Active conservation through engaging communities, providing environmental education and sustainable partnerships.”

Species feature: Thismia rodwayi

Thismia rodwayi is a small reddish-yellowish flower without stem and leaves. It most often pops out of the forest floor or is hidden under the leaf litter.  As it does not contain any chlorophyll, its only vegetative parts are a flower stalk and roots, both devoid of chlorophyll.  The flower is often called fairy lantern. Each individual plant usually sports only one flower, sometimes two, and they can be found in groups of two to five plants (but up to 12) in an area of less than 1 m2.

Restoration tips: What traps to use

Predator Free New Zealand has heaps of information about what traps to use and where to buy them. The information includes knowing which predators you are targeting and which ones you aren’t and how to use the traps.  There’s a great table which outlines the best type of trap to use depending on the type of predator you are trying to target e.g. rats, stoats, ferrets and possums. The information is based on the Department of Conservation’s best practice guidelines. These traps have all passed the National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (NAWAC) guidelines which means they kill humanely and are easy to use and maintain.    

Species feature: Red crowned parakeet (Kakariki)

The Red-Crowned Parakeet, commonly known by its Maori name Kākāriki, is a long tailed bright green parrot with a red crown, forehead and band of red which extends from the bill through the eye and a violet blue colour on the tips of its wings. Kākāriki are now very rare in the North Island. They are even rarer on the South Island, but are still widespread on Stewart Island and many predator-free island reserves, including Tiritiri Matangi. During the 1800s kākāriki were common and at times flocks would emerge from forests to feed on grain and fruit crops. Farmers and orchardists considered them pests and shot thousands of the birds in an attempt to protect their harvests.

Restoration tips: Principles of Restoration Planting

Ecological restoration is the process of re-establishing a self-sustaining habitat or ecosystem similar to what is likely to have existed before human contact. The restoration could involve the reintroduction of native fauna and flora, and the eradication or control of pests.
When reintroducing plant species, the aim should be:
To restore to a site those genes and species which, if it were not for human intervention, might be expected to be naturally found there;
To establish plants in the appropriate landscape, in a way that replicates natural dispersal patterns (this is especially important where species are planted in a natural setting and are intended, or have the potential, to naturally regenerate).

Group feature: Project Tongariro

Project Tongariro celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2014. The organisation began with the idea of creating a pro-active community organisation working in partnership with Tongariro National Park staff. Decades on, Project Tongariro is a key partner of the Department of Conservation and has developed significant strategic relationships with a range of local and national entities to achieve conservation goals. Project Tongariro provides an opportunity for individuals, groups, schools and businesses to be involved and help through funding, supporting or volunteering. It has helped fund, undertaken and completed projects from Ohakune to Taupō, creating a meaningful and long-lasting contribution to the region’s conservation, economic and social structure.  www.tongariro.org.nz

Restoration tips: Wasps

Four species of wasps in the Waikato region are considered pests, the Australian paper wasp, Asian paper wasp, common wasp and German wasp. You may have to deal with these out in the field. The fact sheet provides useful information on how to deal with wasps. German and common wasps pose the greatest risk to human health. They also attack beehives and prey on native insects. The common wasp and the German wasp inhabit agricultural areas, native forests, planted forests, scrub/shrublands and urban areas where they nest underground and in cavities in trees and buildings.

Group Feature: Friends of Waiwhakareke

The Waiwhakareke Natural Heritage Park was established in 2004 with the long-term aim of reconstructing the natural forest, wetland and lake ecosystems present in pre-European times. Intensive predator control will allow vulnerable species to flourish in an urban environment and spill over to other parts of the city. Tui 2000 Inc has been a partner in the Park since the beginning and runs the Friends of Waikwhakareke. Working bees are held on the last Saturday of the month and attract between 12 and 30 people. 

Species feature: Sophora fulvida

The Sophora fulvida is a species of kowhai tree which grows up to 10m tall. It is found mainly on open or disturbed sites, on base rich volcanic rock, rubble and outcrops and amongst mixed podacarp hardwood forest.  A mixed podocarp forest contains tress such as rimu, kahikatea, miro, matai and totara. Sophora fulvida is endemic to NZ therefore it occurs nowhere else in the world. It is found in Northland, Auckland, and the Waikato. The southern most limit occurs on Mt Karioi on the south side of Raglan Harbour. 

Community Group Feature: Habitat Enhancement Landcare Partnership Waihi (HELP)

HELP Waihi was established in 1997 by people representing Forest and Bird (Waihi), Newmont Waihi Gold and local schools with funding from the Waikato Regional Council, Lotto Environment and Heritage Grant, Lilian Valder Ohinemuri Trust and support from Waihi Mitre 1. 

Restoration Tips: Waikato Planting Guides

As we move into autumn and winter the planting season approaches.  There is a wealth of information on the Department of Conservation website about planting in the Waikato Region. 

Species Feature: Bittern/Matuku

The Australasian Bittern (Botaurus poiciloptilus), or matuku is a large, heron-sized bird. They are rarely seen because of their secretive behaviour and excellent camouflage. They are most active at dawn, dusk and through the night. They live in wetlands throughout New Zealand with Whangamarino Wetland in the Waikato being the most nationally significant site.

Community Group Feature: Forest and Bird (South Waikato)

Forest and Bird (South Waikato) have been working at Jim  Barnett Reserve near Waotu for the past 23 years.  The reserve is a real pleasure to visit with the growth on the trees and a large number of resident kereru  and other birds. This year Forest and bird members have continued to plant trees,  oil seats and tables and undertake weed control. 

Species feature: Pingao

Pingao is usually found on the seaward faces of coastal fore dunes. It is capable of growing closer to the shoreline than any other sand binder. Along with spinifex in the North Island it is the most important of the native sand binders for building and stabilising coastal sand dunes.  It builds dunes by trapping the sand between its leaves, around its base and in the long rope-like rhizomes or runners it sends out.  Pingao is unique in that it grows towards the tide from the dunes.  Naturally occurring pingao is a good indicator of biodiversity in a coastal environment.

Climbing asparagus

Restoration Tips: Weedbusters

The Weedbusters website had been given a fresh new update and has heaps of useful information on weed pest management and control.  For control of Climbing asparagus 1. Dig out tubers. Dispose of at a refuse transfer station, burn or bury. Other plant material can be left on site to rot down. 2. Weed wipe: glyphosate (333ml /L), no penetrant. Total coverage not required.  Click on feature to read more. 

Project Manu working bee

Community Group Feature: Project Manu

The Project Manu group is based in Te Kuiti and has been working in the Mangaokewa Scenic Reserve  (200 hectares) since 1995.  Project Manu aims to protect and improve the biodiversity of the reserve.  They were inspired by the diversity and numbers of birds and flora at the Mapara Kokako reserve and hoped to emulate this effect on the local flora and fauna! The group have grown to 50 volunteers with a stable core and regular new members. 

Te Aroha Stag Beetle

Species feature: Te Aroha Stag Beetle

New Zealand’s beetle life is diverse. There are more than 4,500 named, native species. This is more than all New Zealand plant, fish, frogs, reptile, bird and mammal species combined. About 90% of New Zealand beetles are endemic to New Zealand meaning that they are found nowhere else in the world. The Te Aroha stag beetle is found on Mt Te Aroha and is a large flightless beetle with a black glossy body flecked with brown. The wing cases and the front part of the thorax often appear hairy.  Both the male and female have antler shaped mandibles (jaws). These are used to grasp, tear, and push food into their mouth.

Lower Mangapiko Streamcare Group

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QEII pig control information and trap design