Some of Hawke’s Bay’s most critically threatened forest species, including stands of tōtara, black beech and northern rātā, will be protected from potential extinction.
The Hawke’s Bay Regional Council (HBRC) announced this week it will protect and enhance nearly 375 hectares of indigenous forest land across seven public and private sites, identified as high priority by the Ecosystem Prioritisation programme. They are Birch Hill, Motumokai Bush, Puahanui Bush, Gilles Bush, Pakuratahi Bush, Lochinvar remnant, and Whittle Bush.
HBRC’s Team Leader Biosecurity/Biodiversity, Mark Mitchell says some $1.3 million will be dedicated to pest control on the sites focusing on environmental weeds such as old man’s beard, ivy and Japanese honeysuckle, and fencing browsing animals such as feral goats and deer to protect native birdlife.
“Four of the sites are large and challenging and it wouldn’t have been possible to fence them without additional funding from Jobs for Nature and working closely with a large number of external agencies and stakeholders, such as QEII National Trust, the rural sector and land occupiers.”
The Ecosystem Prioritisation Programme has identified 700 sites in Hawke’ Bay that need protection due to their ecosystem type, connectivity and threat status.
“The sites being protected through the Jobs for Nature programme are ecosystem prioritisation sites,” says Mark. “That said, all 700 sites are important and need to be protected.”
Regional Councillor Hinewai Ormsby says indigenous biodiversity in New Zealand is in crisis, and this work is key to support and look after it. “Too much of our biodiversity is just hanging on. Hawke’s Bay has lost 77% of the original indigenous forest that once covered the region. It is a step forward in addressing biodiversity decline, focusing on sustaining, protecting, and improving a full representation of native species and habitats.”
The seven sites being protected are:
- Birch Hill in Pōrangahau one of the largest protected black beech remnants on private land in Hawke’s Bay.
- Motumokai Bush a titoki podocarp remnant with 65 native plants including the Northern rātā.
Puahanui Bush in Tukituki, considered the largest, most intact, and diverse lowland forest left in Hawke’s Bay.
- Gillies Bush a 32ha old growth tawa, titoki, podocarp forest and one of the last forest remnants on the seaward face of the Maraetōtora plateau.
- Pakuratahi Bush in the Waikari catchment a 80ha remnant is of tōtara tītoki forest which is acutely threatened in Hawke’s Bay.
- Lochinvar remnant in Mohaka catchment, two small remnants that contain the nationally vulnerable pittosporum turnerii.
- Whittle Bush,an 84ha kahikatea, rimu forest in the Tūtaekurī catchment that was purchased by council’s Open Spaces team in 2020. The type of forest (MF11-4) is classified as chronically threated
Five out of the seven projects are underway and on track to be completed this year, with the other two are set to begin.
As well as the Prioritisation work, another $100,000 from Ministry for the Environment is going to dune protection in the Porangahau area, and the Regional Council have been delivering a $1,044,000 Te Uru Rakau-funded One Billion Trees native planting programme, in partnership with QEII and Landcare Trusts. This will see 174 hectares planted between 2021 and 2022.