Saturday, June 25, 2022

The Lazarus effect (back from the dead)

In the 2017 summer edition of Forest and Bird, Ann Graeme wrote an article on what she called the “Lazarus Effect”. The article is based around how the New Zealand flora and fauna comes back to life where there is effective pest control. She says, “Yes, it is worth it, this work, month after month, by hundreds of local volunteers in dozens of forest restoration projects. As the pests are beaten back, seeds sprout, shoots appear, and birds, lizards and invertebrates can emerge from the shadows”. After six years of effective rat and possum control by volunteers in Mangaiti Gully we are indeed seeing the Lazarus effect. Frequent reports come to our Trust of unexpected new sightings of our indigenous fauna showing itself. The latest was a juvenile cuckoo fledging being feed by its adopted grey warbler parents. The attached video clip, taken by Tony Grey, catches it just after the fledging was fed. And stick insects are suddenly appearing and anyone that lives on the gully will know the story about the increased in the tui population. Photo: Stick insect - Murray Holt.

Biological control of tradescantia (wandering willy)

In December 2021 a combined team from WRC, Jobs for Nature and Mangaiti Gully Restoration Trust released the tradescantia virus into a heavily tradescantia infested area of the gully at the back of Montrose Cres, Huntington. The photo shows the damage the virus does to the leaves. This was taken at the Waingaro site. The virus was released at Waingaro four years ago and in places has wiped out the tradescantia. Hopefully we can achieve the same result. Just to make sure we cause maximum damage, the team also released the 3 types of tradescantia beetles into the same area. Two beetles attack the leaves and the other the stems. On recent inspection things are progressing well with a particularly good uptake and spread of the virus and the beetle that attacked the leaf edge. Photo 1: Tradescantia beetles being introduced. Photo 2:Virus infected tradescantia

Kauri planting struggling to get established

Kauri are not a species that are generally considered to have historically grown in Hamilton gullies. We therefore do not routinely include kauri on our planting lists. However, there are a considerable number on the gully tops that residents have planted. With kauri die back devastating the northern kauri it is time to rethink the policy as regards planting kauri. An isolated grove as a potential future seed source may well be of value. The southern gully slope below Sovereign Isles was selected as a suitable site and 20 Kauri were planted in August 2021. This site had several advantages. 1. It has a good vista from the existing board walk below the Keswick entrance. 2. It is a well-drained site that suits kauri 3. It is isolated from foot traffic therefore would have a very low possibility of contracting the disease at some future date (the disease is spread through soil movement) 4. Being on the south side of Sovereign Isles future growth would not shade any dwellings at the top of the gully. Ten months on and the summer drought killed off 15 of the young plants. These are being replanted this winter. Photo: Dead Kauri in a Northland forest- Rex Bushell

Friday, June 24, 2022

Epiphyte Collospermun hastatum 2012 -2022

We have a good range of epiphytes growing in the shade house (see photo) but have been uneasy about introducing them into the wild. The conditions they normally grow in tends to be a lot damper than Mangaiti gully. This year we came across one that we had attached to a double tree fern trunk back in 2012. The location was out of the way and quite hard to get to. This year we made point of checking it out and to our surprise it has done very well. See the photos. Epiphytes are an important part of the biodiversity of the flora mix and it would be good to get them established in the gully. Photos: 2012 , 2022 and in shade house - Rex Bushell

Scouts planting

What a day, what a lovely day. A delight to see young ones having great fun outdoors, getting their hands, and some feet, in the mud planting flax on the wet gully floor. While one of them accused us of exploiting child labour (do they know such things at this age?) they all really did enjoy themselves, as did the parents. We have very limited opportunity to get groups of children in for planting because of the terrain in our gully. It is usually too wet or too steep or the plant type makes it more difficult. This was just flax. Hard to kill and they just had to get it into the soft, muddy ground. Nice and simple. This area is mainly flax with a few cabbage trees. The flax is planted close together to support each other. There are no canopy trees planted. The plan is that, in the future, you can walk through the kahikatea dominant forest then come out into a clearing covered in flax. Flax like sun so, with no trees, they should thrive. Drone photo: Child labour hard at work!- David Roper

Natural flora regeneration is underway

After twelve years of restoration work in the gully it is evident that the natural cycle has started with self-seeding of numerous native plants. Some, like a pukatea, are seeding from a tree planted well before we started but has only recently come into full maturity. There are numerous kahikatea, totara, wine berry, cabbage trees (by the thousand), mapou, rewarewa, tree fuchsia, kawakawa, hebe stricta, pate, swamp coprosma, manuka and kanuka all off doing their own thing. All we have to do now is keep the weeds down to let them thrive. Photo: A self sown pukatea seedling - Rex Bushell

Serious engineering work going into track building

For those that live on the gully, it will not be news to you that there has been some serious engineering work going into building a track up through Zone 3 (the section from Keswick to Gordonton Road) along with weed clearing and planting. This has been made possible through a $2.5 million funding package that Hamilton City Council secured through Crown Infrastructure Projects – Water, stimulus plan. The track is due to have it’s formal opening in July. The design and build are a credit to all involved. It opens the final stage of the gully for clearing and planting into native flora and sets in place the whole thirty hectares of Mangaiti Gully to become a valuable natural asset for the city. Video: The helicopter taking in timber for the boardwalk sections of the track. The most cost effective way of getting it in - Tony Grey