Tuesday, 3 April 2012
2006: Kohoekohe trees damaged
2012: Kohekohe trees fully leafed
Last week, a few Waikato Regional Council staff had a great opportunity to see some of the ecological results of the Halo project outside of Hamilton.
The Hope Bush is an approximately 180 ha site is adjacent to the Four Brothers Reserve on the road between Hamilton and Raglan. The site was identified in 1999 as a “key ecological site” and is one of the larger forest fragments linking Pirongia, Mt. Kokako forest and the Hakarimata Range. It was part of the very first Halo operations five years ago and has had intensive possum and rat control for three consecutive years.
Just 7 km north of the Hope Bush as the tui flies, is the Karakariki Scenic Reserve. The reserve is about 500 ha and is right next to several thousand hectares of bush around Mt. Kokako. It should be great habitat for native birds. However, Karakariki and the surrounding area have had no pest control at all.
The difference between the Hope Bush and the Karakariki Scenic Reserve was striking. We were at both sites in the middle of the day when birds are normally less vocal. But at the Hope Bush we saw dozens of tui and several kereru feeding on the kaihikatea and miro berries. The volume of bird song was stunning; it was like being on Tiritiri Matangi.
Sadly, Karakariki was just the opposite. We heard only two tui calls for the several hours we were there.
In 2006, before Halo started, the trees in Hope Bush were being badly damaged by possums. The kohekohe trees, which possums will eat in preference to almost else, were stripped bare. Now, they are fully leafed and loaded with fruit. See the photos <right>.
The conditions at Hope Bush are even more impressive given that the area has been off of pest control for the past two years. The site is scheduled for control again this year and we expect the ecological recovery to get even better.
- Kevin Collins, Programme Manager - Natural Heritage.