Greetings, neighbors of Aongatete Forest. This is the first of more regular newsletters from us, to keep you informed about our activities.
We regularly measure the pest levels in the Forest. Monitoring done in early February shows that OUTSIDE the controlled area, our traps showed a 65% incidence of rats, compared to 8% within our controlled area. In one part of our forest where we have recently deployed 50 or so Good Nature traps, our rat indice is now 0%. Possum levels outside the forest are showing 10%, but within the Short Loop, where we have deployed a large number of Timms traps – we detected none. Our monitoring also shows significantly higher counts of invertebrates (insects, such as weta) within the controlled area.
The low levels of pests in the Project area allow native birds and invertebrates to live and breed successfully, and means that trees can successfully flower, fruit and set new seedlings which are required for a sustainable forest.
Over the past couple of years, several animal and plant species which were once common in the Kaimais but are now very rarely seen, have been rediscovered at Aongatete.
- Last year, with funding from DoC’s Community Development Fund, we created some education kits for the Lodge, as well as some fun family-oriented tools for the public. You can access them at www.aongateteforest.org/activities-in-the-forest/ There are pre-printed copies at our kohanga, up the hill from Wright Rd carpark.
- There is a new track from the Wright Rd carpark, to the main junction of the Long and Short loops, the Nature Walk and the North-South Link (with Swimming Hole Track). The track is entered to the left of the Lodge’s gate, by the carpark, and runs parallel to the lodge driveway bypassing the Lodge altogether. It has been built to provide better security for Lodge visitors, many of whom are children. Please refrain from using the Lodge driveway in the future.
- DoC has announced that they plan to upgrade this new track, and the Nature Walk, and the Swimming Hole link, to Day Visitor standard. This will involve some realignment of the Swimming Hole track to remove river crossings. They are also developing new signage for the Forest. The Aongatete Forest Project together with the Aongatete Outdoor Education Centre will relocate some of the interpretive signs that they have dotted through the Forest to take advantage of these changes.
The Forest is DoC land and open to the public. Hunting, and dogs, are permitted as long as permits are held (a DoC hunting permit is required, and if you have dogs they must have permits too).
We operate an extensive network of bait stations and traps throughout the forest, and volunteers are active so please be extra careful there at all times. Some days, we have a LOT of volunteers in the bush at the same time (i.e. 40+) and for their safety we would prefer that you didn’t hunt at all on these days. You can find out what we have planned by looking at www.aongateteforest.org/volunteers-page/
The poisons we use in the forest are Diphacinone and Cholecalciferol. Both are dangerous to dogs. Don’t let your dogs run wild in the Forest.
We have a number of public events throughout the year. You are welcome to attend any of these. Our calendar can be found at www.aongateteforest.org/calendar/
You can subscribe to our regular newsletters on our website. See www.aongateteforest.org/register-for-newsletter/
You can now follow the Project on Facebook. Our public and volunteer events are listed on here too. Our Facebook handle is @aongatete
Recently, a number of our DOC200 stoat traps have disappeared from the Forest. We can only assume they were stolen. Somebody has gone to some effort to remove them from the Forest because they were fairly deep in it and are not easy to carry (pictured right).
Besides putting our pest control efforts in jeopardy, it is disappointing that equipment that has been paid for by donations, and is installed and managed by volunteers, would be targeted like this. If you see anybody carrying equipment like this from the Forest please try to get their details so we can pass them on to the police.
If your property is adjacent to the Forest, and you would like to do some pest control, please contact us. We will provide advice and loan equipment to help – including DOC200’s!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our contact details are at www.aongateteforest.org/contact-us/
PS Last week a banded rail was spotted near upper Work Road. These are sometime confused with weka. Here’s a picture:-
Its unusual to see them far from the coast. If you spot any more please let us know where and when.