Neighbours Newsletter – Winter 2018

New Phone Number

The Project now has a permanent contact number. The number is forwarded to a “duty officer”, to deal with day to day enquiries. If you have any questions or concerns about activities in the forest and need an immediate answer then dial this number –  07 808 0792.

If your question is not urgent, then please email field.manager@aongateteforest.org.

Subscribe to our public newsletters

We have just published our latest public newsletter. This goes to over 300 volunteers and interested parties. You can see the latest and previous newsletters at http://aongateteforest.org/newsletters/ .

If you would like to receive the newsletters automatically, then subscribe at http://aongateteforest.org/register-for-newsletter/ .

This newsletter won’t repeat all the content that’s in the public newsletters – instead it will just focus on things that our neighbours might be interested in.

Developments

Wright Road has now been sealed all the way to the top. We’re anticipating additional visitors next summer.

DOC, together with volunteers, have undertaken quite a bit of track development. We are now waiting on new directional signage to be installed by DOC. We believe this will be complete by the beginning of September, because we are anticipating a visit from the Minister of Conservation that month.

Aongatete Forest Project is also working on a new sign to be situated next to the (now sealed) carpark, which will also be in place by September.

Projects

In June, together with DOC, we sowed dactylanthus in the forest. You can read more at http://aongateteforest.org/june-2018-seeds-for-the-future/

We are working on more projects, associated with the rare Helms butterfly (also known as the forest ringlet), which is already present in the forest; green mistletoe; northern rata; and epiphytes in general.

We are also developing a public King Fern display, which will be easy to access from public tracks. The King Fern enclosure that we build late last year is not in a public location.

Finally, we have purchase a bat detector, which converts bat echo-location sounds into human audible frequencies. We plan to do some work to assess the bat population at Aongatete.

Pest Control

We are just completing the mid-winter possum and rat baiting program. Apart from the extensive trapping that we undertake, this is our only possum baiting campaign of the year. It has involved visiting each of our 1200 baitstations three times over about 4-5 weeks – first to put out non-toxic ferafeed, to acclimatise the animals to eating from the baitstations. Then, we replace any remaining ferafeed, with the acute toxin feracol. Finally, we have to go back and remove any remaining feracol, to avoid any sub-lethal doses being consumed and creating bait shy animals.

Both rats and possums are targeted. We measure animal numbers before and after the program – and the results are quite satisfying.

The raw numbers can look a bit alarming. Possum numbers in April, inside the forest, were higher than outside the forest, because we’ve created a very attractive destination for them. Our indices (RTI = Rodent Tracking index) are also affected by season – in the colder wetter months, the animals are more likely to enter the tunnels we use for these measurements.

 

The key outcome is that the “inside” of the forest (i.e. where we do pest control) has less pests than outside the forest. The breeding season for robins, warblers and fantail starts soon and we want to give them the best opportunity for success.

Kaimai Mamaku Catchments Forum

The Aongatete Forest Restoration Trust is an active member of the KMCF and a strong supporter of more widespread pest control in the Kaimai ranges. We welcome the appointment of new co-ordinator, Wendy Rapana, who is working out of DOC’s Tauranga office and is funded by DOC, BOPRC and Waikato RC.

A forum meeting is planned for 17 August. One of the key discussion points will be a newly prepared report:- “A Pest Management Discussion Document: Towards Thriving Kaimai Mamaku Forests May 2018”.

The report can be downloaded from :-

https://www.boprc.govt.nz/media/757917/final-discussion-doco-kaimai-mamaku-pest-management-19june2018.pdf

Work has already begun trying to secure funding under the Pest Free 2050 program for a more comprehensive approach to pest management in the ranges.

Public Meeting

On August 23rd, we are holding a public meeting in Katikati, where Ruud ‘The Bug Man’ Kleinpaste will talk about bugs, biodiversity & the bush.

The Project will also provide a brief report on the past year’s activities and plans for the future. At this stage it is looking like we will also have the Uretara Estuary Managers AGM either immediately before or after the meeting, and UEM will also present a brief public report.

UEM is doing some fantastic work on the catchments feeding into the Uretara Estuary, fencing and replanting streams between the Kaimai and the harbour. Landowners at Lund Road have established a major pest control and wetland restoration project on over 30 properties, to help restore land and water quality for future generations.

Watch the Katikati Advertiser for more details or keep an eye on http://aongateteforest.org/calendar/ .

Weeds

Adjacent to the carpark are a variety of weeds, including tradescantia (wandering willy) and Selaginella kraussiana, or African Club Moss (see image below).

These are both highly invasive and a serious threat to the forest. The Club Moss, in particular, drops microscopic spores which are easily transported into the forest on people’s boots.

It is unfortunately relatively common in people’s gardens.

Please check your own garden and if you have any of this plant, destroy it!

The BOP Regional Council has some excellent resources at

https://www.boprc.govt.nz/our-region-and-environment/pest-management/

Elsewhere in the forest, we have gorse at the edges and pines along the river. We are working on strategies for removing these from the forest.

Volunteering

We are always looking for new volunteers. Our extensive trap network needs to be checked regularly (fortnightly in the summer, monthly in the winter) and a line can be done in 2-4 hours. There are many other activities we undertake and a variety of ways to help. Please see www.aongateteforest.org/join/ for more information, or email join@aongateteforest.org.

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