ISSUE 366 â€¢ SUMMER 2017 www.forestandbird.org.nz
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A win for nature
No new mines
The Lazarus effect
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Forest & Bird has been defending New Zealandâ€™s natural environment since 1923. In that time, we have campaigned for the protection of some of our most precious wildlife and wild places, planted hundreds of thousands of trees, removed millions of predators, and created safe forests so our native birds can return. As New Zealandâ€™s leading independent conservation organisation, we speak up for the rivers, oceans, and forests in your local community and defend vanishing nature in courtrooms and councils throughout the country. But Forest & Bird is needed now more than ever. Nature is in crisis, and our environment is degrading around us. With your support, we can do more
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COVER SHOT Blue whale in the Pacific Ocean off Baja, California. Photo: Brandon Cole www.brandoncole.com. New Zealand has its own (likely genetically distinct) blue whale population that lives in the South Taranaki Bight – see page 15.
Editorial MARK HANGER
Nature’s promising future Earlier this year, the Forest & Bird team set a target to make the environment a major election issue. We worked with other organisations to launch the Freshwater Rescue Plan to save New Zealand’s waterways. Our chief executive travelled the length and breadth of the country giving talks about the need to put nature high on the political agenda. We set up our www.votefornature.org.nz (no longer live) website and urged our members and supporters to ask the tough political questions of candidates in their local communities. Our advocacy and communications teams supported the campaign with stories showing how the environment was in crisis and needed urgent political action to reverse the decline of our waterways, birdlife, forests, oceans, and climate. And, in September, for the first time ever, we ran a TV advertising campaigns that reached a potential audience of one million people, asking them to vote for nature in the upcomimg polls. At the beginning of the year, the environment was considered the most important issue by just 4% of voters in Aotearoa New Zealand. By September’s general election, the environment ranked number 3, with 17% saying it was most important. It is clear that the public wants a better future for our natural heritage. New Zealand has lacked strong environmental leadership in recent years, and we have watched this country fall far behind most others. We are not doing enough to promote sound environmental protections, tackle climate change issues, or support nature conservation initiatives. September’s election result heralds a potentially new era for restoring the environment. There is now a three-party collaboration forming the new government. Significantly, the agreements between Labour and New Zealand First, and Labour and the Greens, along with Labour’s own election manifesto, all contain significant priorities for improved environmental performance. If all come to fruition, then New Zealand will in the near future make major advances in environmental management, limiting then reducing carbon emissions, and adequately funding nature conservation. This all looks very positive on paper, and our role in Forest & Bird is to ensure that these policies become realities. The expectations are high that there must be clear gains for freshwater and conservation, and a clear direction set for climate issues. In the coming months, Forest & Bird intends to keep the three parties true to their promises and agreements. Since the election, the Our Atmosphere and Climate 2017 report has been released by the Ministry for the Environment and Statistics New Zealand. This report clearly puts the onus on political and industrial leaders to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. We look forward to seeing political and corporate leadership, as well as additional resources, to achieve real advances as we move to meet and exceed our international obligations on climate issues. Finally, I cannot let the moment pass. We now have an incredibly well-qualified and skilled Minister of Conservation. While maintaining our non-partisan political stance, we can applaud a former Forest & Bird staff member being appointed the Minister of Conservation. Congratulations Eugenie! Ka kite anō Mark Hanger Forest & Bird President Perehitini, Te Reo o te Taiao
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Letters Forest & Bird welcomes your feedback on conservation topics. Please send letters up to 200 words, with your name, home address, and daytime phone number. We don’t always have space to publish all letters or publish them in full. The best contribution to the Letters page will receive a copy of Big Pacific: An incredible journey of exploration and revelation by Rebecca Tansley, RRP $59.99, Bateman. This beautifully produced book opens a window on the wonders of the Pacific Ocean and how people interact with it. It is the companion book to the spectacular National History NZproduced four-part series set to screen on Prime Television in early 2018. Please send letters to the Editor, Forest & Bird magazine, PO Box 631, Wellington 6140, or email firstname.lastname@example.org by 1 February 2018.
A spade is a spade
Carrot as well as stick
I am referring to the letter “On being political” (Spring 2017). I am 76 and joined Forest & Bird in 1986. I never thought the society is “too political”. On the contrary. But what does too political mean in this context, what goes too far? Is, for example, the article Nature’s not for sale on page 8 of the same issue “too political”? Protecting and restoring nature also means that those in power working for or against the environment must be clearly identified – in particular, those who want to convert more and more of the environment into money and also those who have perfected the art of just pretending to be pro-nature champions. This means that Forest & Bird’s work must have a strong political component. A spade should be called a spade in this context. Many in power seem to hate that Forest & Bird members aren’t just a bunch of friendly (elderly) people doing not much more than planting trees, watching birds, pulling out weeds, and dispatching pests. If this was true and also applied to the “greenies” of other countries, then the worldwide fight for the environment would be lost.
There has been a lot of publicity about the environmental damage caused by farmers, especially dairy farmers. However, there are farmers and growers who care about the environment and take steps to protect waterways and native habitats on their properties. Ideally, they should be rewarded for their efforts through being able to brand their produce as coming from a “Sustainable and Environmentally Friendly Production” system. Twenty years ago, I saw such a system in the UK. Could Forest & Bird start discussions with the agricultural and horticultural industries about developing such a system in New Zealand for both local and export produce? I am sure we would all pay a little more for our food if it encouraged the protection of the environment.
Eckart Runge, Wakefield Best letter winner
And then there were none I read Anne Graeme’s article on the vanishing native mantis with interest, because I’ve not seen one in my garden (or anyone else’s) for well over five years. It could even be 10. There are plenty of the South African variety, and I must confess to squashing them when they first appeared because I saw them as a threat to our natives. It obviously did no good! Now there are the pale chewinggum wad egg cases all over the walls, but never a neat oblong brown one. I am also dismayed by the dearth of other insects in the garden. Once, wetas, stick insects, centipedes, black ants, millipedes, ground beetles, weevils, spiders, and many other invertebrates made their home on the property. There were caterpillars of the gum moth, monarch butterfly, red admiral, and magpie moth on their food plants, now never seen. Fortunately, there are bees about. Now, wasps, Argentine ants, white butterflies, shield bugs, aphids, psyllids, slugs, and snails abound, and they bring no joy at all! I suspect a big part of the problem is the constant war we have to wage on the Argentine ants. We rue the day the Argies arrived. Cynthia Black, Nelson 4
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Nicholas Martin, Auckland
No myna matter When reading Dean Baigent-Mercer article about mynas in the last issue (Spring 2017), I was concerned and surprised by the comment “Even inside the best pest control area at Puketi Forest mynas by day dawn and dusk are the most commonly heard bird.” I have been a volunteer for the Puketi Forest Trust for many years working in the “best pest controlled area”. I have seen very few mynas, mostly on the forest margins. This statement seems an exaggeration, and for the volunteers working with the trust very disheartening. I was in fact working in the forest yesterday and saw no mynas. However, the main bird I heard was the wonderfully happy grey warbler, a bird that really tweets truly! Cherry Beaver, Okaihau. Editor’s note: We apologise for any offence caused by the article, which was intended to raise the serious issue of mynas competing with native bird species for food, nesting space, and territory in northern parts of New Zealand. To find out more about the great work that trust volunteers are doing to restore the 15,000ha Puketi Forest, see www. puketi.org.nz. Or sign up for the Puketi Forest Kauri Challenge walk, which takes place on 27 January 2018. Some of you have asked for more information on how to deal to the pesky mynas. Here is a link to Landcare Research’s review of their impacts http://bit.ly/1nCxIbF and if you are after a myna trap, contact Bruce at bruce@ kohukohu.com.
Morepork Mondays Very much appreciating the content of Spring 2017. The article on page 44 caught my eye. Is Alison Evans able to share the morepork nest box design? The Aro Valley, Wellington, could profit from a few installations; thanks! Denis Asher, Wellington Editor’s note: We’ve had a few requests for the design of the morepork nesting box. Contact me on editor@ forestandbird.org.nz for the plans of how to make Alison’s most successful ruru nesting box. Mark Ayre from Wanaka has also offered plans for a mohua nesting box for those lucky enough to need one.
Archey’s frogs It was with great sadness I read the Spring issue of Forest & Bird as it brought back memories of Archey’s frogs being wiped out needlessly in Department of Conservation pitfall traps many years ago. It also reminded me to renew my membership subscription! I run a sanctuary and promote holistic conservation and share the southern boundary of Moehau forest with the Department of Conservation in the upper Coromandel where these frogs live. I also worked and contracted for many years with DOC. Ten years ago when I found out four frogs had been killed in these pitfall traps, I made noises to change their methods. I hope they have stopped using these traps. Archey's frogs are much scarcer than kiwi, but if one kiwi is killed there is a big hoo ha. Thank you, keep up the good work. Kelvin Mouritsen, Waiaro Sanctuary, upper Coromandel
Bittern guardians In the Winter issue of Forest & Bird, Lauren Buchholz wrote an article on the bittern, saying that there are only about 900 left in New Zealand. I thought she might be interested
WIN A BOOK Forest & Bird is giving away three copies of Native Birds of New Zealand by David Hallett, $54.95. This title received rave reviews and sold out when it was published in 2014. David, who was one of New Zealand's finest bird photographers, died last year, and his book is being republished as a tribute to his life's work and legacy. He was also a huge supporter of Forest & Bird's conservation advocacy. To enter the draw, email your entry to draw@ forestandbird.org.nz, put BIRD in the subject line, and include your name and address in the email. Or write your name and address on the back of an envelope and post to BIRD draw, Forest & Bird, PO Box 631, Wellington 6140. Entries close 1 February 2018. The winners of New Zealand on Foot by Denis Dwyer were Christine Hepburn, of Lower Hutt, and Bob and Carole McHardy, of Auckland. The winner of Tears of Rangi by Anne Salmond was Mary Thomson, of Christchurch. to hear that we spotted one on our property up here in Doubtless Bay. We have a nine-acre patch of bush with a couple of ponds and raupo, and have been intensively targeting predators for three years now. We recently finished the tortuous process of covenanting 7ha of our property (including the coastal strip), so hopefully if there are a pair here they may have a good chance of breeding successfully. Have not heard a call though, but we do not spend a lot of time around the main pond where we saw the bird. Andrew Bowker, Doubtless Bay, the Far North
See our Bird of the Year story on page 7 >
Letters Time for climate action The paradigm-shifting article in Wikipedia, Planetary boundaries, explores how human actions have become the main driver of global environmental change. Put simply, the growth of world population, plus huge increases in resources used and wastes produced, means that we are rapidly outgrowing our planet’s capacity to maintain an environment favourable for our species and our civilisation. Climate change is the canary in the coalmine. Carbon dioxide occurs naturally in Earth’s atmosphere. But because we burn fossil fuels (coal, oil, and gas), the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere has increased 50% since pre-industrial times. Until well after we complete the present global reform to phase out fossil fuels and switch to renewable energy, the temperature at the surface of our planet will continue to increase. So too will the risk of positive feedbacks and sharp, unexpected rises in temperature. Greenhouse gas emissions in both New Zealand and Australia are much too high. They need to be reduced rapidly. Individually and collectively, it’s time for all of us to take responsibility. We can each adjust our lives to tread more lightly on the Earth. And collectively we must persuade our political, community, and business leaders to act. David Teather, Canberra, Australia
Super sparrows A note to say how much I appreciated the article “Sparrow Smarts” at the end of the Winter 2017 edition. I always feel that the humble sparrow gets overlooked in the greater picture of our New Zealand birds, but if they weren’t around our human habitat would be the poorer. When
there are no other species around, the chirpy sparrow fills our gardens and home neighbourhood. Their constant coming and going and cheeky chirping and squabbling provide a background of birdlife without which our gardens and backyards would be silent. We encourage birdlife with our syrup feeder. Our main visitors are tūī, silvereyes, and sparrows. The antics of these birds are entertaining. I have read that native birds don’t mix and feed with “exotics”, but our local population don’t seem to have read that yet. Chris & Sheila Budgen, Motueka
Australian plover problem I wanted to bring to your attention, if it is not already a matter you are aware of, the increase of the Australian plover population that I am seeing in the Auckland and Northland areas over the past three years. I have seen these birds on the Awhitu peninsula and Great Barrier Island as well as Ruakaka in growing numbers. There is a colony of plovers near the marina at One Tree Point in Ruakaka and as a result very few native birds. They nest in short grasses and are very territorial, competing with a number of the local native birds, particularly in the air over their nesting grounds. They are very fast in the air and have spurs on their wings which they use to attack native birds, including hawks, when they are hunting. I have seen this first hand. Is there a DOC policy to protect the native bird population against the plover, and is this seen as a problem for New Zealand’s native birds in the future because that is how I see it. Chris Seagar, Auckland
Gift Bird boxes up for grabs Check out this new Kiwi company that delivers beautiful and original gifts in a box – and every order supports Forest & Bird’s vital conservation work! Andrew Cox, who launched Gift Bird in October, is an Auckland-based interior designer who personally curates every gift box, selecting items that are high quality and a little different. And
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his bespoke gift boxes are already getting rave reviews. We have two awesome Gift Bird boxes Treasured Time (RRP $100) and Individuality Shows (RRP $125) to give away to two lucky readers. Both are filled with treats for body, mind, and soul. To be in to win, email your entry to email@example.com, put GIFT BIRD in the subject line, include your name and address in the email, and the gift box you would like to win. Or write your name and address on the back of an envelope and post to GIFT BIRD draw, Forest & Bird, PO Box 631, Wellington 6140. Entries close 1 February 2017. *Check out the full Gift Bird range at www.giftbirdshop.com. Perfect for
celebrating birthdays, Christmas, a new baby, retirement, or any special occasion. Forest & Bird receives a donation for every Gift Bird box sold viathrough the website.
Bird of the Year 2017 Kea are the world’s only Alpine parrot. Photo: Craig McKenzie
KING OF BIRDS
Kea has been crowned Bird of the Year after two weeks of heated campaigning, voting scandal, and international media attention.
Its silly antics make it more of a “court jester” than monarch, but kea still scooped the competition to be crowned Aotearoa’s Bird of the Year 2017. But life for the nation’s favourite bird isn’t easy. Once abundant, there are only 3000–7000 birds left in the wild. They are vulnerable to a number of threats, including being killed by stoats and possums, particularly during nesting season. Kea could also be impacted by climate change – as temperatures increase, so do the range and numbers of predators. Their inquisitive nature and tendency to frequent populated areas puts them at further risk. Kea are known to chew lead flashings and nails on older houses and huts, and poison themselves. This makes them sick and disorientated, increasing their chances of getting hit by cars. Team Kea – Laura Young, George Moon, Harry Seager, and Annika Werner – hit the “campaign trail” in October, even posting videos while one of them was monitoring the birds in Kahurangi National Park. “We’re proud to say we ran a peaceful campaign. There were no attack politics from Team Kea. We just did our own thing and went at it hard,” says Laura. The same can’t be said for some of the other teams. “Someone in Christchurch used fake email addresses to place 114 votes for the white-faced heron. As yet, we have no leads and no suspects, but we’re impressed someone cares enough about native birds to rig the system,” said Kimberley Collins, Bird of the Year Coordinator. Kimberley was interviewed by local and international media, including the BBC, and the voting scandal even made the front page of The Guardian’s website. Kea won the competition with a record-breaking 7311 votes. Kererū came in second place with 4572 votes after targeting the “youth vote” with funny memes and pictures.
The Bird of the Year fundraising appeal raised more than $14,000 to help support Forest & Bird’s conservation work.
Keeping up with kea Team Kea is urging members of the public to help them with a new citizen science project. They want people who frequent alpine villages, ski fields, and anywhere that kea might be seen to report sightings of these boisterous birds. “A lot of them have names, and back stories, even personalities, which make this an excellent tool for engaging the public with kea conservation,” says George Moon, who is part of the Kea Database project, along with Laura Young and Mark Brabyn. The website is also useful for people to report sightings of sick kea. In October, a lot of people were seeing two birds with symptoms of lead poisoning. They were seen vomiting and looking a bit shaky, so the Arthur’s Pass Department of Conservation team put out a “wanted” poster for them. “One of the birds, Wananga, was captured and made national news after it was sent to the South Island Wildlife Hospital with a police escort,” explains George. “It’s not as serious as it sounds. Local police in Arthur’s Pass happened to be heading that way, so they took him to the South Island Wildlife Hospital.” Thankfully the other sick bird, Kerewa, was captured soon after, and both are recovering after being treated for lead poisoning. Anyone can report a kea by taking a photo or noting the colour of its leg bands. Visit www.keadatabase.nz to add your sightings.
Forest & Bird
Banning new mines on conservation land is a huge win for conservationists, but what will it mean for Te Kuha and other mines already in the pipeline? By Caroline Wood.
Minister of Conservation Eugenie Sage announced in November that the new government will strengthen the protection for public conservation land by making it offlimits for new mining. The unexpected announcement delighted environmentalists but sent shock waves through the mining industry. “Public conservation lands are set aside for nature to thrive and for New Zealanders and visitors to enjoy. Mining, especially open-cast mining, runs counter to that. It destroys indigenous vegetation and habitats, permanently changes natural landscapes, and can create sizeable waste rock dumps with a risk of acid mine drainage polluting waterways,” said the Minister. “We need to build a sustainable, modern, clean green economy for all New Zealanders. New mines on our protected lands are not going to take us there. Coal mining adds to the climate crisis, and new mines generally have a 15-year lifespan. Once the coal is gone, the jobs are gone and so is the unique environment of places like the West Coast – which is the basis of a sustainable economy and long-term jobs. “Places like the West Coast and Coromandel have diversified their economies on the back of their stunning natural beauty and landscapes, and the warmth of local communities. This government is committed to helping workers in these regions make a just transition from mining.” Importantly, the new policy appears to have the backing of all three coalition parties. The new Minister for Regional Economic Development Shane Jones, of New Zealand First, said the government’s plan to plant a billion trees could take up the slack from less mining. “I think it has got every prospect of soaking up folk in transition from other industries,” he told Radio New Zealand. “And many of the regions have progessive economic development agencies and know you cannot rely on just one industry to revive the ecomonic prospects of a province.” Over the past year, Forest & Bird has been campaigning to stop coal mining on conservation land at Te Kuha and the Buller plateau, and gold mining in the Coromandel. “We are delighted the government recognises that protected conservation land means just that. It’s protected,” said Forest & Bird chief executive Kevin Hague. Forest & Bird is looking forward to seeing the detailed proposals of how the 8
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government plans to enforce the new “off-limits for mining” rule for conservation land. In the last issue, we looked at the plight of Archey’s frog living on conservation land in the Parakiwai Valley, Coromandel Forest Park, where Oceana Gold is currently prospecting for gold. Conservation minister Eugenie Sage Forest & Bird’s general counsel Peter Anderson said he was unsure of how the new policy would be implemented but considered any new application to mine the land at Parakiwai would likely be turned down. This would be a major win for conservationists – in particular, Forest & Bird’s Mercury Bay branch, which has been campaigning locally and nationally to stop the mine. A question mark also hangs over the future of another controversial gold mining operation at nearby Karangahake Gorge, where New Talisman Gold Mines has been given permission to access conservation land for its prospecting operations. The future of a raft of proposed new coal mines on the Buller plateau is uncertain. Some of the areas earmarked by the previous government for new mines are on conservation land – for example, those on the Denniston plateau – which means they won’t be allowed to go ahead under the new policy. However, other parts are not located on conservation land, including Upper Waimangaroa and Deep Creek. And existing mines, including Escarpment and Cascade, are already consented so won’t be impacted by the government’s “no new mines” policy. At the time of writing, it wasn’t clear how stewardship land will be treated. This land has the weakest legal protection of all conservation land categories and can be swapped or sold in some circumstances, despite clearly having high natural values. “Overall it’s fantastic news, particularly for parts of Denniston and Coromandel,” said Peter Anderson. Archey’s frog. Photo: Bryce McQuillan
“We would like to see the remainder of the Denniston plateau, currently categorised as stewardship land, reclassified in such a way that its special values are protected from open cast mining. Stockton and Denniston plateaux have been seriously impacted by open cast mining, and the values are so high that we consider there is no scope for new coal mines there.”
primary purpose of the reserve, in this case the Westport water supply,” he said. “It would also risk setting a precedent for other reserves across the country,” he added. Peter also argued at a resource consent hearing held by Buller District Council in September that protecting the ecological values of a significant natural area couldn’t involve destroying some of that land. The Department of Conservation’s expert evidence said that some species would not survive at the site after mining. Species of particular concern include forest ringlet butterfly, and the only known habitat of a leaf-veined slug species. *At the time of writing, no decisions had been made in relation to Te Kuha.
Te Kuha’s not for taming Cut here for Te Kuha opencast mine
Te Kuha mine site. Photo: Neil Silverwood
TE KUHA UPDATE Forest & Bird has been fighting to stop the proposed Te Kuha open-cast mine that would destroy an internationally significant rare coal measure ecosystem and be visible from Westport and the Lower Buller Gorge tourist route. Eugenie Sage and the Minister of Energy and Resources Megan Woods are poised to make a joint decision on Rangitira Development’s application to access 12ha of conservation land for the 150ha mine. Forest & Bird has submitted on the application seeking it be declined. “It is not clear how the government’s ‘no new mines on conservation land’ policy will affect Rangitira Development’s application, but we think the values are so high that it should be declined in any event,” says Forest & Bird’s General Counsel Peter Anderson. The majority of the proposed mine footprint, which is at the top of a rugged hillside with no existing roads, lies within a Buller District Council water conservation reserve, held for Westport’s water supply and administered under the Reserves Act. In October, Forest & Bird went to the High Court to argue that the Crown Minerals Act shouldn’t be allowed to override the district council’s obligations under the Reserves Act. “This would give mining precedence over environmental protection. We consider this is contrary to the intention of the Reserves Act, which says ecological values have to be protected, except in relation to the
Forest ringlet butterfly. Photo: Melissa Hutchison
India’s dawn chorus Join us for a fully escorted, small-group, bird-lovers and wildlife tour in north east India. 20 days, departing 16 October 2018. India’s diversity of habitat types and altitudes give it a rich bird life. It has over 1200 bird species including 70 raptors, 30 duck and geese species, and 8 stork varieties. We visit 5 magnificent National Parks: in the Himalayas, the Ganges Plains and on the Deccan Plateau. In this season we will also see masses of migratory birds from north Asia. And wildlife, including tigers, is a bonus.
Contact: colourindia.co.nz | firstname.lastname@example.org 09 422 0111 | 021 235 3932
Forest & Bird
Drowned yellow-eyed penguin with a catch of school shark and rig. Photo: MPI
Hoiho in trouble
Forest & Bird calls for set net closures in important yellow-eyed penguin foraging areas, as new research reveals international concerns about plummeting populations. By Caitlin Carew. Hoiho is one of three penguin species worldwide at serious risk of being caught in fishing nets, especially set nets, according to the first global review of penguin bycatch. The study reveals that New Zealand's yellow-eyed penguin/hoiho, and Humboldt and Magellanic penguins, both found in South America, are of most concern out of the 14 penguin species that have been recorded as bycatch in fisheries wordwide. Set nets – walls of fine nylon mesh used to catch fish by the gills – are used by about 330 commercial boats in New Zealand waters. Recreational fishers also use them. “Diving birds like penguins are unable to see the fine mesh underwater and become entangled and drown,” says Forest & Bird’s seabird advocate Karen Baird, who contributed to the review. “The deaths of penguins in set nets is one threat that could be easily avoided. Preventing their deaths in set net fisheries is a major priority in saving this species from extinction,” says Karen. Yellow-eyed penguin numbers have dramatically plummeted in recent years, with only 216 breeding pairs left on the South Island in 2015–16. They face a number of threats, including fishing nets, climate change, disease, and habitat degradation. “In the past 20 years, yellow-eyed penguins have declined by 76% at previous population strongholds. We have reached the point where every bird counts,” says Dr Ursula Ellenberg, the New Zealand penguin scientist who initiated the global review. Researchers link low numbers of officially reported yellow-eyed penguin deaths to the low observer coverage (less than 3% of boats). Based on the limited observer data, one recent study estimates that set nets kill an average of 35 yellow-eyed penguins per year. The review recommends a number of actions to tackle the problem, including the presence of fisheries observers or video monitoring on boats to monitor bycatch and
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managing set net fisheries in important penguin foraging areas to reduce deaths. “We look forward to the proposed introduction of video surveillance on set-netting fishing boats, as an important step in monitoring and reducing bycatch,” adds Karen Baird. “But, for the yellow-eyed penguin, the situation is so urgent that we also need to immediately establish set net closures in important yellow-eyed penguin foraging areas. “The Ministry for Primary Industries needs to act urgently and work with the fishing industry to tackle this problem, before we lose yellow-eyed penguins from the mainland altogether.” The study Tangled and drowned: A global review of penguin bycatch in fisheries, was co-ordinated by Forest & Bird’s global partners BirdLife International. It was published in the journal Endangered Species Research. 2012
Yellow-eyed penguin nests on Otago Coast
Nest numbers at Long Point in the Catlins
*Source: Forest & Bird’s Southland and Otago branches
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A D V ER T O R IA L
Environmental Management Study at SIT Southern Institute of Technology (SIT) student Raphael Karnuth has always had a passion for the environment, its biology and especially New Zealand’s native species. Prior to studying the Bachelor of Environmental Management, Raphael had done some volunteer work with the Department of Conservation (D.O.C.) and found it to be something he was interested in pursuing. This included going to the bird island sanctuary on Tiritiri Matangi Island which lies in the Hauraki Gulf of New Zealand. There, he and other D.O.C. workers helped to maintain walking tracks, build bird aviaries and generally assist with keeping the birds happy. This experience has come in handy since Raphael was chosen to be a student assistant working with the Yellow-Eyed Penguin Trust. This involved taking a helicopter to Codfish Island (Whenua Hou), which is located near Stewart Island. The tiny island is the centre for Kakapo recovery in
New Zealand and also a breeding ground for the Yellow-Eyed Penguin. Being able to get out in the field is what it is all about and Raphael was involved in checking nests, mapping nest locations, inspecting penguins’ feather assemblage, beak and head size, as well as microchipping.
“Field trips help to bring in the geology and earth science side of things so that it makes more sense outside of the classroom.”
Living and studying in Southland has opened up many opportunities for Raphael and he has no regrets about enrolling in the Bachelor of Environmental Management at SIT. As well as the Bachelor of Environmental Management, SIT also offer a Graduate Certificate and Graduate Diploma in Environmental Management. Enrol now for 2018!
Raphael Karnuth Environmental Management student
ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT @ SIT ª Graduate Certificate in Environmental Management ª Graduate Diploma in Environmental Management ª Bachelor of Environmental Management
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KCC celebrates 30 years Next year marks a special milestone for Forest & Bird – the 30th year of the Kiwi Conservation Club/Hakuturi Toa. Our members came together and voted in 1988 to form a children’s conservation club – one that would help connect tamariki with nature, engage them with environmental issues, and nuture conservation leaders of the future. Local children’s clubs – run by passionate volunteers – were formed around Aotearoa, and a national newsletter was established by Andrea Lomdall. Soon after, Ann Graeme took over KCC’s helm and provided strong leadership for 25 years. Ann continues to write a regular column in Forest & Bird magazine. See page 44
of this issue for her latest article. Today, the newsletter has grown into the popular Wild Things magazine, which is published four times a year and contains a wide variety of homegrown content written specifically for Kiwi kids. KCC has 28 active branches with 5000 members, and we are growing. To mark the start of our 30th anniversary celebrations in 2018, we are giving away a free copy of the most recent Wild Things magazine with this issue of Forest & Bird. Please spread the word about KCC among your friends and whānau. Join our KCC crew to be part of all the fun and learning too! Membership makes a great Christmas
gift for your tamariki, mokopuna, or young family friends – see www.kcc. org.nz. Annual membership costs just $24 per child or $100 per school. Sarah Satterthwaite and Rebecca Browne, Your KCC team
Thanks for voting for nature A potential audience of 1,040,502 people saw Forest & Bird’s first “vote for nature” TV advertising campaign – thanks to donations totalling nearly $30,000 from our branches and supporters that helped make it happen! The campaign featured chief executive Kevin Hague speaking about the crisis facing our environment and urging the public to vote for the environment. The advert, which was filmed in and around Arthur’s Pass, directed viewers to our Vote for Nature website.
The website collected all the political parties’ responses to some tough questions on Forest & Bird’s campaign priorities, including fresh water, threatened species, fisheries bykill, and a Zero Carbon Act. Several branches donated $3,000 dollars towards the cost of the advert, including Hauraki Gulf, North Canterbury, North Shore, Southland, and South Auckland. Wairarapa branch donated $1,000 and Tauranga $300. Fish & Game donated $2,000, and another $10,000 was received from a major donor and through our
online fundraising platform. Phil Bilbrough, general manager of marketing and communications, said: “Forest & Bird has been running ‘vote for nature’ campaigns for the last few elections. And this year we’ve been able to reach a bigger audience, thanks to the generosity of all the donors who helped fund the production of Forest & Bird’s TV commercial.” The two-week TV campaign launched on 11 September on TV3, and a 30-second and 15-second version of the Forest & Bird advert ran during this time. You can see the longer version of the TV ad here: https://youtu.be/cT8xH6IoR_o. Relationship manager Jess Winchester said: “Together, we made Forest & Bird history by creating the society’s first ever vote for nature television advertising campaign, which was a fantastic success. We’d like to thank everyone who made a donation and who helped to make this possible.” *What does the new Labour-led government mean for nature? See page 18.
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Is Mary our oldest member? Mary Farmer from Point Chevalier in Auckland is 101 years old, and we think she might be our oldest living member! A love for nature, especially trees, prompted Mary to join Forest & Bird in 1977, and she has been supporting us ever since. Mary was an active member of Auckland Central branch and was a regular on the branch’s trips for 27 years, right up until December last year. “I enjoyed walking outdoors in the
Mary Farmer under her favorite oak tree at the retirement home where she now lives.
company of like-minded people, and I enjoyed the beauty of the trees and the flowers, the sun, and the world itself,” she says. When she was younger, Mary was involved in planting many trees on Motutapu Island, in the Hauraki Gulf, and also supported her branch’s fundraising efforts. “Being among trees is like a spiritual experience for me. It made me feel close to God. Trees and nature are life and what is important in life.” Mary has eight children, 17 grandchildren, and 10 greatgrandchildren. She celebrated her 101st birthday on 6 August 2017. Daughter Catherine Farmer says that Mary has always loved the outdoors. “She has enjoyed a long life, well lived, and continues her Forest & Bird membership. “Although she is not one to put herself forward, she will be quietly pleased to know that her love of life and active tree plantings in her younger days are appreciated.”
The things we do for nature: Chris Hartnett raised more than $1,000 for Forest & Bird by running the Auckland half marathon dressed as an endangered kākāriki. We reckon he looks pretty perky compared to the rest of the field – it must be those wings.
Governor-General Dame Patsy Reddy, second from right, with other ACAP guests at Forest & Bird's national office.
Taking flight Forest & Bird’s patron, the Governor-General, Her Excellency The Rt Hon Dame Patsy Reddy, visited National Office in September when we hosted a delegation from the Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels (ACAP) meeting. Dame Patsy, who is very interested in seabirds, chatted with a number of leading South American seabird conservation experts who attended the evening function, along with Ambassadors from Argentina, Chile, and Brazil. Delegates at the ACAP meeting pledged to work together to prioritise greater protection for the Antipodean Albatross that, without intervention, could be extinct in 20 years.
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Salmon farm plans scuppered Controversial plans to farm salmon in the pristine waters of But, in November, a spokesman for the Southland Stewart Island’s Port Pegasus have been axed. Regional Development Strategy announced that a scientific Port Pegasus, which is bounded by Rakiura National Park, feasibility study had concluded that Port Pegasus wasn’t was earmarked for possible intensive salmon farming, and suitable for aquaculture. This was due to its lack of currents, the initial project was given government which would make finfish farming uneconomic, funding for a feasibility study. This was according to a report in the Southland Times. despite the area containing “some of the Sue Maturin says Forest & Bird is largest areas of near pristine marine habitat delighted that Port Pegasus is safe from the in the country with significant natural environmentally damaging effects of intensive heritage values”, according to a Ministry salmon farming. for Business Innovation and Employment “These kinds of projects will never meet (MBIE) report. environmental standards under the Resource In our Spring issue, Forest & Bird’s Management Act, which is why Environment Southland conservation manager Sue Southland asked the previous government for Maturin explained how the society was a major intervention in the form of a Special worried that the area would be designated Economic Zone that would override the RMA’s a “Special Economic Zone” where normal protections. environmental protections wouldn’t apply. “Forest & Bird is keeping a close watch on Official documents released to Forest other proposals for aquaculture in sensitive & Bird earlier this year showed that MBIE marine environments, and we encourage the looked at case studies for Special Economic new government to show greater economic Port Pegasus will not be ruined Zones, including aquaculture in Southland, wisdom and environmental responsibility than by intensive salmon farming. Photo: Jake Osborne particularly salmon farms in Stewart Island. the last one did on this issue.”
Potton & Burton’s Xmas book giveaway We have nearly $500 books to give away before Christmas, thanks to Forest & Bird’s supporters Potton & Burton. The Nelson-based publisher has generously donated two amazing holiday packs just for Forest & Bird readers.
Family pack – total value $230
People and places pack – total value $270
A Place for the Heart; New Zealand; Kahurangi Stories – More Tales from Northwest Nelson; Up the River; Watch out for the Weka; It’s my Egg; Toroa’s Journey
Edmund Hilary A Biography; A Place of the Heart; High Country Stations of Tekapo; Aotearoa The NZ Experience; Out of the Ocean, into the Fire
TO BE IN TO WIN > Email firstname.lastname@example.org witih your name, address, and keyword FAMILY.
TO BE IN TO WIN > Email email@example.com with your name, address, and keyword PLACES.
Entries close at 5pm on Thursday 14 December. We will post the prize packs in time for Christmas. For full descriptions of these books and a special 20% reader discount, see page 38.
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GENTLE GIANTS Marine ecologist Dr Leigh Torres discovered a New Zealand blue whale population in the South Taranaki Bight near a proposed ironsand mining operation. She talks to Caroline Wood about her ground-breaking research and her fears for the whales’ future. Dr Leigh Torres
Until a few years ago, it was thought that blue whales only travelled through New Zealand waters and didn’t remain here for long. There had been occasional sightings of these behemoths of the blue at Kaikōura and the Hauraki Gulf, delighting visitors lucky enough to spot them, but they didn’t stay long. So when American marine mammal scientist Dr Leigh Torres heard about blue whales being regularly seen in the South Taranaki Bight, which covers the area between South Taranaki and Golden Bay, she was intrigued. “I stumbled onto some records of blue whales in the South Taranaki Bight. It piqued my interest at the time because there were a lot of sightings and it is unusual to hear of so many in one area. I dug more and kept finding sightings and, in 2013, I wrote a paper hypothesising that the South Taranaki Bight was a blue whale feeding ground,” says Leigh, who was working for NIWA at the time. In 2014, Leigh and her research team undertook their first expedition survey and found about 50 blue whales feeding in the area. The South Taranaki Bight turned out to be one of only five known feeding grounds for the blue whale in the Southern Hemisphere (outside Antarctica), making it internationally significant. The others are in Australia, Madagascar, Chile, and the Crozet Islands in the Indian Ocean. Genetic analysis shows that the New Zealand population is related to the pygmy blue whale – a sub-species of the larger true blue whale Balaenoptera musculus. Estimated at about 20m in length, the New Zealand blues are genetically similar to Australian pygmy blue whales but, importantly, appear to be genetically distinct – making them very special taonga for Aotearoa. Leigh’s research shows that many blue whales use the South Taranaki Bight to feed on the high amounts of krill, their shrimp-like prey, that are found there. “The South Taranaki Bight looks like the most important feeding area for blue whales in New Zealand. They may feed
in other places occasionally, but the South Taranaki Bight is likely where they go reliably to find food,” explains Leigh. “We have had hydrophones in the South Taranaki Bight, and they’ve recorded a high level of blue whale calls pretty much every day of the year. There is variation in there, but the main thing is that we detect them throughout the year.” The South Taranaki Bight also appears to be an important place for blue whale breeding and nursing, as well as feeding. The team’s hydrophones pick up whales making their “D” call when feeding. The male whales have a different breeding call that they use when they are trying to find a mate. “We hear that breeding call all year round, so now we know they are using this area for feeding and breeding. We’ve also seen mums and calves, so we know mums are bringing their young here, which means it’s an important nursing ground. It means this area serves multiple uses for this population, so, if they are disturbed, it will impact on multiple parts of their lives,” says Leigh. Following research expeditions in 2014, 2016, and 2017, Leigh and her colleagues from Oregon State University’s Marine Mammal Institute are poised to publish a scientific paper bringing together three years of research. This will describe New Zealand’s blue whale population for the first time.
A blue whale surfaces in front of an offshore oil and gas production and processing vessel in the South Taranaki Bight. Photo: Dawn Barlow
Forest & Bird
The biggest animals on the planet, blue whales are fueled by tiny protein-rich krill, which they hoover up into their huge mouths. In the summer months, they can eat four tonnes a day. This sequence of images shows a blue whale surface-lunge feeding on a patch of krill in the South Taranaki Bight. Drone images: Todd Chandler
Mining threats It would be nice to leave the story there, an exciting discovery of New Zealand’s own blue whale population living happily in the South Taranaki Bight, protected and thriving. Unfortunately, the future for our New Zealand blues is not secure. Earlier this year, the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) gave mining company Trans-Tasman Resources (TTR) permission to mine up to 8,000 tonnes of seabed per hour every day for the next 35 years from the South Taranaki Bight. The application area covers 65km², which is more than three times the size of Kapiti Island. The sand will be sucked up to a boat on the surface, with 90% being returned to the ocean, creating noise and a sediment plume, which is expected to be deposited on ecologically significant areas close to shore, such as the Patea Shoals reef, off South Taranaki. The EPA heard evidence that noise can travel across vast distances of ocean and impact on whales and dolphins a surprisingly long way from the source. Adverse effects from transiting ships have been recorded 50km away. Forest & Bird, along with a number of other organisations, is appealing the decision in the High Court next year, in a last ditch effort to stop the ironsand mining going ahead (see panel). Back in Oregon, Dr Leigh Torres, who appeared as an expert witness at the TTR hearings, is worried about the
Map of survey effort in 2017 showing blue whale sightings in and around the proposed TTR ironsand mining operation. Image: Leigh Torres
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mining impacts should Forest & Bird’s High Court appeal fail. “The impact on the blue whales comes down to increased noise and increased sediment. Those are the known impacts that we can anticipate. There are probably a lot of other things we can’t answer, the unknowns that we can’t anticipate. “Noise pollution is a really difficult and significant problem, especially for accoustically sensitive marine mammals like whales. The ocean is a dark place, and sound travels much better than light. They communicate by sound, so every increase in noise can make it harder for them to find food, navigate, communicate, and find a mate.” Although recently discovered, this population of New Zealand blue whales has probably been coming to this feeding ground in the South Taranaki Bight for thousands of years, says Leigh. “Too much noise may cause the animal to leave the feeding area. This is a particular problem for the New Zealand blues because these whales probably won’t go off to join a new population in Australia or Chile. They are south-west Pacific whales. They may try to go somewhere else in New Zealand, but there’s no other known feeding ground that can support them.” “If they can’t eat in the South Taranaki Bight because of increased noise or sediment, then they may not really have any other options.” Mining and other offshore industry, such as oil exploration, increases shipping traffic through the region, which increases the risk of a vessel strike to large baleen whales. “Thirty-five years of this operation is going to take its toll. It’s going to change the environment, the ecosystem, and impact on the blue whales and a lot of other marine life. We need a much better evaluation of the potential mining impacts – in particular, noise,” adds Leigh. “It’s such an unknown endeavour, nobody has ever done it, and it’s a huge risk to the environment, in so many different ways. It involves new technology and new methods.” Leigh is trying to secure enough funds to mount another research expedition in early 2019. Now that the team has completed Phase 1 – describing the population – it will move to Phase 2, which is to study the impacts of industry in the South Taranaki Bight on the blue whales’ health and behaviour.
Blue whales have the loudest calls in the animal kingdom. Consisting of a series of moans and pulses, they can be heard up to 1600km away. Blue whales exist in distinct sub-populations across the world. Pictured here is a blue whale mum and calf just north of Farewell Spit. The calf is on the left. Photo: Dawn Barlow
Forest & Bird appeals TTR decision With the generous support of the T-Gear Trust, Forest & Bird’s legal team is preparing to appeal the Environmental Protection Authority’s TTR decision in the High Court early next year. General counsel Peter Anderson says it is an important test case. “The ironsand mining will have significant effects on the marine ecosystem. However, the extent of these effects is not fully understood, particuarly on critical matters like the effects of noise on whales. In summary, our case in the High Court is that the EPA’s decision to grant TTR consent
sets the bar too low,” he explains. “TTR is required to do two years of monitoring before it commences mining. We will be arguing that the monitoring should have been done before the consent was granted and that the TTR decision sets a bad precedent for the level of information required by applicants. “This new information about New Zealand’s blue whale population, the fact it’s an important feeding and breeding site, amplifies our concerns. The effects on something as important as blue whales should have been better understood before consent was granted.”
TIME TO PROTECT OUR MARINE LIFE Forest & Bird is supporting calls for a large marine mammal sanctuary to protect New Zealand’s unique blue whale population, as well as more than 35 other species of whales, dolphins, and porpoises found in the South Taranaki Bight. They are under threat from TTR’s ironsand mining proposal, as well as offshore oil and gas industries. The new Labour-led government has pledged to look at establishing a blue whale sanctuary in the South Taranaki Bight. But this will take time and won’t More than 35 species of whales, dolphins and porpoises are found impact on existing mining permissions, in the South Taranaki Bight, which is one of only five known blue such as TTR’s ironsand operation, which whale feeding grounds in the Southern Hemisphere, outside Antarctica. Photo of a blue whale’s flukes by Leigh Torres will still be allowed to go ahead unless Forest & Bird’s appeal is successful. risks from a short-sighted decision of the EPA? Chief executive Kevin Hague said: “Who could “We barely understand our oceans, and yet here not be filled with a sense of wonder at this amazing we are exploiting the life out of them.” animal. It should be a source of enormous pride Please support our marine appeal today and help and excitement for New Zealand that we have what Forest & Bird stand up for New Zealand’s ocean life, appears to be our own unique population of blue including blue whales, dolphins, fish, penguins, and whales. seabirds. Please make a donation at “But how will New Zealanders feel when they www.forestandbird.org.nz/marinelife. learn these whales are about to be exposed to more
Forest & Bird
Campbell Island mollymawk chick. Photo: Kyle Morrison
A win for
Kevin Hague assesses the post-election landscape and outlines Forest & Bird’s priorities for the future. Forest & Bird members, supporters, and donors should give themselves a pat on the back following the formation of the new government. Forest & Bird set out to make the environment an election issue, and with the help of our allies we succeeded. In the agreements between Labour, New Zealand First, and the Greens, there’s a commitment to making positive changes for the environment and conservation. The appointment of Eugenie Sage, a Forest & Bird Distinguished Life Member and former staff member, as Minister of Conservation and of Land Information is another very positive development. I have known Eugenie for nearly 40 years, and it’s fantastic to have a minister with a deep, ingrained understanding of conservation issues and a passion for the natural world. One of the issues to be prioritised in the coalition agreements is climate change. It appears the government
Climate change is at the heart of the new government’s political agenda, but will change come quickly enough? Photo: David Brooks.
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will establish a Zero Carbon Act and a Climate Commission, which together would set a course for New Zealand to become carbon neutral over three decades. Forest & Bird has been campaigning for these, and it’s fantastic to hear Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s commitment that New Zealand will be carbon neutral by 2050. Freshwater is another priority in the coalition agreements. The new Environment Minister David Parker has a good understanding of freshwater issues, and I think we will see crucial changes to the National Policy Statement on Freshwater Management to include rules about diffuse discharges from farming. In freshwater – as with other environmental and conservation issues – the government will face stiff opposition from industry, and Forest & Bird must maintain pressure for commitments to be kept. In marine conservation, there have been suggestions recently that the proposed Kermadec/Rangitāhua Ocean Sanctuary is off the table. This is clearly not the case, and all three government parties have said they are committed to the sanctuary after working through the issues with iwi. What iwi have been looking for primarily is proper consultation and maintaining their right to seek remedy in the courts if they consider treaty rights have been
The important priority right now for Forest & Bird is to make the most of the opportunity we have to make gains for nature under the new government.
breached. This is fair, and I think it’s possible to achieve the sanctuary while meeting iwi requirements. The governing agreements are less clear on achieving broader marine protection. Forest & Bird believes 30% of our marine area, including the Exclusive Economic Zone, needs to be protected compared with less than 0.5% now. We’ll be looking to the government to set out a process to achieve that kind of comprehensive protection rather than the piecemeal approach we have so far seen. Another marine challenge facing the new government is ensuring the proposed Ministry of Fisheries is structured to resolve the central problem facing the current Ministry of Primary Industries of reconciling its incompatible roles of both promoting and regulating commercial fishing. The new ministry needs to implement monitoring cameras on all fishing vessels and introduce effective regulations to stop the massive bykill of seabirds and marine mammals. We will be keeping a close eye on what happens in the marine area because the commitments from the government have so far been vague. In the agreement with the Greens, there’s a clear commitment to increased funding for conservation, pest control, increased ranger numbers, and restoring the Department of Conservation’s science and advocacy roles. DOC used to be a fierce advocate for the natural world and conservation values – as required under its legislation – but in recent years it has almost always been absent from RMA hearing rooms and courts. I’m encouraged to see Eugenie Sage has made it clear she expects DOC will again fulfil that obligation. A lot of government effort will be going into forestry, which is great news, but the specifics will be important. We
Jewelled gecko hanging in Coprosma propinqua. Photo: Carey Knox
Walkers alongside Travers River, on the Nelson-Marlborough section of the Te Araroa Trail. Photo: Ben Curran
Waiwhetu Stream Pollution. Photo: Dave Allen/NIWA
My genuine hope is that we can move beyond spending all our energy on defending nature to thinking about what restoration is. What do we do to bring back all of our natural taonga to abundance within flourishing ecosystems? don’t want to see, for example, a lot of pine trees planted on the conservation estate. We do want to see a lot more native forest planted, and this seems to fit well with the government’s priorities. The important priority right now for Forest & Bird is to make the most of the opportunity we have to make gains for nature under the new government. We’re making contact with ministers and providing them with briefings, mindful that the early actions of governments are important for setting the tone and enabling a whole range of later actions. We want this government to get off to the best start possible for nature. Over recent years, it feels like we have constantly been fighting against commercial exploitation of nature. The most we’ve able to achieve in most cases is paring back the losses to less than they otherwise would have been. My genuine hope now is that we can move beyond spending all our energy on defending nature to thinking about what restoration is. What do we do to bring back all of our natural taonga to abundance within flourishing ecosystems? That’s what everyone in the Forest & Bird team – members, supporters, and donors – and all those who voted for nature wanted to achieve, and now we have a platform where that may be possible. The sad fact is, when Forest & Bird said nature is in crisis we weren’t exaggerating. The new government’s commitments are much better than those we’ve previously had, but we need to be vigilant to ensure the right actions are taken. Everyone on the Forest & Bird team needs to play our part to ensure that we take full advantage of this opportunity for nature’s sake. * Kevin Hague is Forest & Bird’s chief executive Forest & Bird
Carbon neutral New Zealand
Global warming is already here and having significant and costly impacts on our communities, health, weather, oceans, and nature. Photo: Alan Blacklock/NIWA
Climate Advocate Adelia Hallett explains why the new government needs to act fast to get greenhouse gas emissions under control. It’s time to celebrate – Forest & Bird’s goal for major cuts to New Zealand’s climate-damaging greenhouse gas emissions is now government policy. But then we need to get back to work, to make sure that policy turns into action. The new government says it is committed to New Zealand being carbon neutral by 2050. That means our emissions of carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and other greenhouse gases will be less than the amount of carbon dioxide being taken from the atmosphere and stored in our soils and trees. This is important because, if the world is to avoid dangerous levels of warming, it is imperative we get greenhouse gas emissions under control. Although latest figures* show that, globally, the rate of emissions is slowing, it’s at about half the rate needed for the world to reach the Paris Agreement’s upper target of keeping warming to less than 2°C. New Zealanders have some of the highest rates of emissions in the world – fifth highest on a per capita basis and second highest on a gross domestic profit basis.* The previous government set what it called an ambitious
Sea levels have risen 22cm over the past 100 years in New Zealand. Haumoana storm damage. March 2005. Photo: Alan Blacklock/NIWA
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target, to cut emissions by 11% on 1990 levels by 2030. But the latest figures show that, in 2015, our net emissions were 64% above 1990 levels. Scientists say, if every country adopted the same approach as New Zealand currently has in place, by the end of the century the world would be about 3°C warmer than it is now. That’s warmer than it has been since humans appeared on Earth and spells disaster for many of our native species. Global warming means rising seas and increased coastal flooding, more droughts, wildfires, storm damage, habitat changes, and many more impacts. Getting politicians to take the situation seriously has been difficult, but climate change was, for the first time, an big issue during the general election campaign. Particularly heartening was the fact that all parties, with the exception of National and ACT, agreed that New Zealand should be carbon neutral by 2050. The new Labour-led government says that action on climate change will be a priority. It’s promising to appoint a climate commission of experts to advise it and monitor progress towards carbon neutrality and to adopt a carbon-budgeting approach, in which clear, achievable five-year targets will be set. But talking about policy and getting it done are two different things. Forest & Bird’s job now is to make sure that making actual cuts in greenhouse gas emissions isn’t pushed out into the 2030s or even 2040s, because it’s really in the next decade that all the important work needs to be done. In August, a group of climate scientists, including New Zealand’s Professor Dave Frame, published a paper in which they said it is physically possible for global warming to be kept at 1.5°C, but it requires deep emissions cuts through the 2020s.* Keeping warming at 1.5°C is the “aspirational” goal of the Paris Agreement and is critical for the survival of both human communities throughout the Pacific and native species in New Zealand. New Zealand has not supported this goal in the past.
We also need to make sure that nature is not lost in the climate change debate. We have already seen species such as kākāpo, petrels, kiwi, and penguins affected by the impacts of climate change this year, and we know that it is going to get worse. The government’s Our Atmosphere and Climate 2017 report acknowledges New Zealand could face “costly” decisions to manage the effects of climate change on biodiversity, including relocating vulnerable species. Climate change impacts are not, however, currently included in the Department of Conservation’s draft Threatened Species Strategy. *References for this article are available on request.
SEVEN SCARY CLIMATE FACTS
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Wairarapa drought 2013. Photo: Dave Allen/NIWA
WORKING TOGETHER Environmental and social groups throughout the country worked together all year to get “carbon neutral New Zealand by 2050” made into government policy. Forest & Bird supported the Zero Carbon Act proposal and petition put together by youth climate group GenZero. We were also behind the Our Climate Declaration project, in which New Zealanders were asked to declare what they’re prepared to do to contain climate change, and the Climate Consensus Coalition Aotearoa. The coalition is chaired by Forest & Bird distinguished life member Emeritus Professor Sir Alan Mark, and its patron is former Prime Minister Sir Geoffrey Palmer. It is backed by organisations representing hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders.
Forest & Bird and other organisations visited Parliament in August to explain to politicians what needs to be done to make New Zealand carbon neutral by 2050.
The amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere above New Zealand has increased 23% since 1972 (Baring Head sampling station). Globally, ocean acidity has increased 26%, with some recorded increase in New Zealand. New Zealand’s sea levels have risen 22cm since 1916 and continue to rise at the rate of 1.8mm a year. New Zealand’s glaciers have lost 25% of their ice since 1977. We have the fifth highest per capita emissions in the OECD and the highest level of car ownership. New Zealand’s five warmest years on record have occurred in the past 20 years, and 2016 was the hottest year on record. Tuatara could be extinct in 380 years, because warmer temperatures affect the ability of females to breed and also mean hatchlings will all be males.
*Extracted from the Ministry of Environment’s Our Atmosphere and Climate 2017 report, released in October.
CLIMATE CHANGE IN ACTION Fijian conservation biologist Adi Siteri Tikoca sees every day what greenhouse gas emissions are doing to people and nature. “In Fiji, we are seeing the impacts on our native species, like our unique bats, and on our people, with storms like Cyclone Winston destroying our crops, and the graves of our ancestors becoming waterlogged from sea-levels rise,” she said. Siteri, who attended international climate negotiations in Bonn this year, where Fiji is the president, works for Forest & Bird’s BirdLife partner NatureFiji. She was in Auckland in October and said she saw many parallels between what is happening in New Zealand and in Fiji. But, after listening to people debate at an Auckland Council event about whether they were prepared to stop eating meat and driving cars to reduce climate change, she said that New Zealand’s approach to dealing with climate change is different. “It’s great that you choose whether to eat meat or not. In Fiji and the Pacific, we get to lose our homes and, if that’s not a big enough price, I don’t know what is,” she told the audience of more than 600. Adi Siteri Tikoca
Forest & Bird
Principal ranger for biodiversity in Fiordland Lindsay Wilson releasing tiēke on Five Fingers Peninsula, Te Anau. Photo: DOC
What next for DOC? Jane Young looks back at how the Department of Conservation’s role has changed since it was established in 1987 and suggests it’s time for a return to its roots. When my son is trying to wind up his aged parents about how long they’ve been around, he is liable to chant, “Back in the day...” So when I started thinking about how much the Department of Conservation has changed since we first came to New Zealand more than 30 years ago, that was the phrase which came to mind. “Back in the day”, DOC was funded to run programmes of environmental activities for both locals and tourists. Rangers were encouraged to become involved in educational programmes. Staff could focus on working for the environment rather than on “building partnerships”. And DOC could advocate for, well, conservation. I remember back in 2003, when yet another battle was being fought to gain protection for the area around the iconic Nuggets in South Otago, not only did the department produce posters for schools about the benefits of marine reserves but a senior DOC officer also gave an impassioned speech at a public meeting about the importance of protecting marine ecosystems. And now? Well, when it comes to the Southeast Marine Protection Forum, DOC doesn’t even have a seat at the table. While Forest & Bird and other environmental NGOs fought to save the Denniston Plateau, DOC didn’t turn up to the hearings, and its staff were forbidden to take part in the bioblitz that sought to bring public attention to the wealth of biodiversity to be found on the plateau. More recently, in the struggle to protect virgin ecosystems at Te Kuha on the West Coast from the ravages of opencast mining, DOC’s submission was neutral on the question of whether or not mining should go ahead. Hardly surprising perhaps, given that their submission was prepared jointly with the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE). DOC experts described the Te Kuha site as having 22
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high conservation values, but they should have known that economics would trump the environment every time. If you’re in any doubt about that, refer to the recent EPA decision to carry out ironsand mining off the Taranaki coast in habitat for marine mammals, including critically endangered blue whales. The EPA sought advice from DOC, but the Department didn’t put in a submission. You’d think that MBIE would be an uncomfortable bedfellow for DOC, but at least there are officials in both ministries prepared to give honest opinions. Earlier this year, Forest & Bird obtained documents showing that MBIE officials had warned against plans to establish Special Economic Zones. These zones would make it easier to bypass existing rules and push through developments such as the proposed Stewart Island salmon farm at Port Pegasus. In addition, Forest & Bird revealed alarming news about plans to carve up the unique and outstanding landscapes of the Buller plateau. Chief executive Kevin Hague stated:
DOC Director General Lou Sanson and Kiwibank’s Mark Wilkshire with puppy recruit Kowhai, part of the Conservation Dogs Programme. Photo: DOC
“We’ve become aware of secret plans developed for the Ministers of Conservation, Energy and Resources, and Economic Development to identify areas for coal mining and areas for protection. The problem is, they’re planning to take the highest value conservation land for coal mining ... These coal measure landscapes are unique and outstanding, and have extremely high biodiversity values.” DOC and MBIE have also buddied up to plan Karamea’s very own theme park at the nearby Oparara Basin. This pristine limestone cave area would host light shows, and artificial moa and giant Haast eagles. Forest & Bird’s Jen Miller says the cave network is precious and fragile, and home to flora and fauna that wouldn’t cope with increased tourist numbers. “From my perspective, I just can’t believe this is seriously being considered – I really hope that the government and DOC will have a rethink about this.” And it doesn’t end there. In a bizarre move, the former Minister for Conservation, Maggie Barry, appealed against the court’s ruling that she wasn’t allowed to revoke the special conservation status of 22ha of Ruahine Forest Park so that it could be swapped for farmland and then flooded as part of the government-backed Ruataniwha dam. When, in July 2017, the Supreme Court backed the Court of Appeal, Barry said in effect: “No problem. We’ll just change the law.” Fast forward three months, and everything has changed. We have a new government and the Green Party’s Eugenie Sage is the new Conservation minister. Her appointment heralds a brighter future for conservation. Let’s hope that
Gearing up for the 2017 tourist season in Fiordland: upgrade in progress at DOC’s popular Cascade Creek campsite, Milford Road. Photo: DOC
New Zealand’s long-tailed bat and whio/blue duck are still in serious trouble despite DOC’s efforts to save them.
DOC can now stand up tall and stop being the Department of Tourism ... or mining ... or primary industry. And become once again a strong voice for conservation. As it was, back in the day. *A version of this article first appeared in Kārearea, the newsletter of Forest & Bird’s South Otago and Southland branches.
Forest & Bird
Snorkelling at the Mokohinau Islands, in the Hauraki Gulf, with Burgess Island in the background. Photo: One Shot/Darryl Torckler
HEALTH OF THE GULF A Forest & Bird campaign group has been formed to lobby for stronger marine protections in the Hauraki Gulf. By Melissa Irace. Auckland’s national treasure, the Hauraki Gulf, is in trouble. Overfishing, seabird bycatch, and poor land management are three of the biggest issues affecting the ecological health of the 4000km² marine park, according to the Hauraki Gulf Forum. The forum’s Hauraki Gulf Marine Spatial Plan (www. seachange.org.nz) was published last December after nearly three years of stakeholder meetings, attended by Forest & Bird’s marine advocate Kat Goddard. The plan included a raft of recommendations to deliver a vision that the ”Hauraki Gulf Marine Park is vibrant with life, its mauri strong, productive, and supporting healthy and prosperous communities”. The process for implementing the plan lay with various local councils and government agencies, but by September 2017 there was little evidence that any of the recommendations were being acted on. “Without a comprehensive push from the interested public, these plans have a habit of drifting into oblivion, and no action could happen for years. Keeping the issue in the public eye is key,” said distinguished marine scientist and Forest & Bird Old Blue recipient Dr Roger Grace in a recent letter to the chairs of the eight Forest & Bird branches. At his request, the Auckland branches called for a Forest & Bird campaign group to be created. More than 30 people from the Hauraki Gulf area responded to our email asking for volunteers to join the action group. The proposed 15 new marine reserves will be a key topic for the group, as will the need for greater local awareness 24
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and consultation. We want to tell the story of how the Gulf used to be, the dire situation it is in now, and what it could be like again if there is more marine protection. Forest & Bird has also employed a marine outreach co-ordinator, Alicia Bullock, who will work alongside our marine advocate Anton van Helden on the new Hauraki Gulf campaign. For updates and information about Forest & Bird’s Hauraki Gulf campaign group, please contact a.bullock@ forestandbird.org.nz.
THREE PRESSING ISSUES Fisheries management – Overfishing means fish stocks are in serious decline. Crayfish are functionally extinct in the Hauraki Gulf, and snapper stocks have reduced by 80%. Fishing methods such as bottom trawling are destroying sea beds. Seabirds – Species such as black petrel and the fleshfooted shearwater are being caught in commercial long-line fisheries faster than they are breeding. See page 34 to find out more about the Hauraki Gulf’s importance for the New Zealand’s seabirds. Poor land management – Sedimentation and contaminants are leaching into the waters of the Gulf. For example, dairy farming runoff into the Firth of Thames has resulted in high nitrogen levels, leading to algal bloom and devastating effects on shellfish and marine life.
Nature in action
A BIG BIRDING DAY
Birdathon 2017 organisers Mark Ayre and Petrina Duncan hope lots of people sign up for a big birding day out in December.
How many birds can you spot in 24 hours? Petrina Duncan and Mark Ayre set out to beat the previous record of 58 species seen in Otago in one day. This is how they did it. We started at 6am at Mark’s house near Wanaka and got all of our common bird species around his backyard, before heading to the Albert Town lagoon, where we saw loads of water birds. Then we zoomed all the way to Makarora and beyond to get some bush birds (in the howling nor’wester!) – nice sighting of a shining cuckoo, but sadly the weather was not conducive for seeing/ hearing kākā, kakariki, or mohua – and we found some banded dotterel on the riverbed (no wrybills sadly). Then it was time to count the falcons by the Hawea swingbridge campground. At this early stage, we had already spotted 40 bird species! After a quick coffee in Wanaka and a drive past the crested grebes on the lake, we sped up Ballantyne Road out of town and happily ticked off rock pigeons and pied stilts. We went all the way through Central Otago to the Sinclair wetlands, near Dunedin airport, thankfully ticking off fern birds. By this stage, it was a boiling hot sunny afternoon. Off to Otago Peninsula, stopping at Tomahawk Lagoon to get spoonbills and other wading birds, then it was time to tackle Tairoa Head for the Southern Royal Albatross. At this point, a massive southerly front hit at full force, scattering all the tourists except us, who staunchly stared out to sea and spotted a giant petrel, shy albatross, and a sooty shearwater. Unfortunately, we had to leave the peninsula without seeing any penguins, but weather and time were against us as it was now after 5pm. A side trip over the hills behind Port Chalmers and down the hill towards Orokonui Ecosanctuary in the fog/ rain/southerly gave us feral chickens, tūī, rosella, and two kererū. Then a quick detour to Karitane to tick off Caspian tern. We had fish and chips at Waikouaiti before heading home at sunset. We did try to see pipit but, alas, could only find skylarks. Back at Mark’s, we managed to spot a little owl flying. We called it quits at 10.30pm.
An epic 67 species of birds were seen in 16.5 hours, breaking the only record we have ever heard of (58) for Otago and making us think hard about how we would be more organised next time to get even more species. The most fun (and tiring) day we’ve had in ages. What a big birding day!
BIG DAY BIRDATHON 2017 Mark Ayre and Petrina Duncan are organising a nationwide Big Day Birdathon. It takes flight on 16/17 December 2017 – the first weekend of the school holidays. The idea is simple: get together a team of two or more people and count as many bird species as possible in one calendar day (either Saturday or Sunday). All native and introduced species are fair game, and you could choose to stay in one region or travel more widely. Keep it fun! Add a twist: Take part in this year’s Birdathon and raise money for Forest & Bird’s conservation work. You can quickly set up a team fundraising page at https://www.everydayhero.com/nz/ [keyword: Forest & Bird]. Organiser Mark Ayre, of Forest & Bird’s Central Otago-Lakes branch, said: “You’ve got to find as many birds as possible. It’s all about having a fun day outside in nature. We hope it will be a way to get people interested in our wonderful birdlife. Similar events are run around the world and are very popular.” *For more information and to sign up, see http://birdathon.co.nz. Regular updates will also be posted on Birdathon’s Facebook page www.facebook.com/birdathonnz. Forest & Bird
Saving the Ngaruroro Inflatable kayak and catarafts on the Lower Gorge, Ngaruroro River. Photo: Brian Megaw
Freshwater advocate Annabeth Cohen explains why the whole of the Ngaruroro River needs protection – from source to sea. A torrent flowing down, steep and steady, collecting drops from the Kaweka, Kaimanawa, and Ruahine Ranges, the Ngaruroro awa takes its shape. The river descends across erodible coarse material allowing the channels to divide and rejoin, again and again. As a braided river, the Ngaruroro in itself is special. Extensive braided river systems are extremely rare worldwide and, aside from New Zealand, occur only in Alaska, Canada, and the Himalayas. The Ngaruroro is the best example of a braided river habitat remaining in the North Island. As it carves its way across the Heretaunga Plains shingle flats, river islands and a prominent wetland are formed, creating invaluable habitat that hosts almost 80 species of native birds at different times of the year. A significant proportion of these species are in serious trouble, including the blackbilled gull, grey duck, and bittern, all nationally critical. The water quality in the upper reaches of the Ngaruroro is in a near pristine condition, and the river is largely surrounded by undeveloped land. As it leaves the ranges, the 26
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lower reaches, east of Whanawhana, is where the water quality changes slightly, remaining acceptable apart from issues with clarity. From Whanawhana to the coast, there are stretches of braided river before the water passes through modified areas with stop banks and forms a single channel to the Waitangi Estuary. The last 7km of river, which stretches inland from the tidal Waitangi Estuary up the Clive River is, sadly, affected by urban and rural runoff and discharges that significantly reduce its quality. Despite this, and decades of overallocation in the lower reaches, the fish population is holding on, with the greatest diversity of the Ngaruroro’s fish species living there. Some fish, such as the once prolific patiki, the freshwater black flounder, have been known to travel some distance inland, having been sighted at the braided sections of the river. The entire river is home to a total of 18 species of indigenous fish. Seven are considered “at risk – declining”and are in real danger of disappearing altogether. The application for the Water
Conservation Order (WCO) was lodged by Forest & Bird, Fish & Game, Ngāti Hori Ki Kohupatiki, Jetboating New Zealand, and Whitewater New Zealand. After evidence from these organisations, scientists, and those who submitted on the application, the WCO Tribunal will be left to answer two questions: What are the river’s significant values and how can these values best be protected? Its recommendations will go to the Environment Court and finally to the Minster for a final decision. The community in Hawke’s Bay is concerned. I have seen the news stories and editorials, and hear stories from my family who live there. It is natural to want to know what will happen to our water, especially when the livelihood of business depends on water. Hawke’s Bay Regional Council is required under the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management (NPS-FM) to identify and protect the significant values of outstanding freshwater bodies in its region. This was the catalyst for the creation of TANK – a community
stakeholder collaboration group mandated to make water management recommendations. Forest & Bird has had a local representative on the group since its inception and is proud to continue supporting the work of such an important process. We see the recognition of the nationally outstanding values of the Ngaruroro River as complementary to the regional planning process that TANK is undertaking and not in conflict with it. Seeing the other successful WCOs on rivers such as the Mohaka, in northern Hawke’s Bay, and the Buller, near Westport, Forest & Bird is confident that business and agriculture can and do co-exist with this type of legal recognition. Ultimately, because the livelihood of the community depends on the health of the rivers, we all have a responsibility to protect them for our own interests and for the interests of these special natural places. *As Forest & Bird went to press, the WCO hearings on the upper sections of the Ngaruroro opened in Napier. Our team is due to give evidence about the ecological values of the river. For more information about the Ngaruroro River, see our cover story in the February 2014 issue. Ngaruro is home to Pārera/grey duck and the endemic redfin bully.
with Tom Kay, Forest & Bird’s Regional Manager for the Lower North Island What’s the significance of the Ngaruroro Water Conservation Order (WCO)? The Ngaruroro River is the most intact braided river in the North Island. Water quality is particularly high in the upper reaches and sustained through the lowland reaches. This is unusual because most lowland sections of rivers in New Zealand are significantly degraded. A WCO on the Ngaruroro would be the first to cover an entire river from source to sea. The successful Buller River WCO nearly did this but not quite.
How has Forest & Bird been involved? We have been promoting the idea of a WCO for the Ngaruroro since about 2009. Forest & Bird and our co-applicants submitted the current WCO application in 2015. The society is responsible for providing evidence on the water quality, as well as the native fish and bird values, of the river. Our local branches in Hawke’s Bay have been advocating for protection of this river’s outstanding natural features in the face of opposition from some groups that are convinced a WCO will increase the restrictions they face.
Why are some farmers and HBRC unhappy? Some industry representatives in Hawke’s Bay are concerned that a WCO will set a minimum flow for the Ngaruroro River that will restrict future consents for water takes. But the minimum flow we propose in the WCO is the existing minimum flow Hawke’s Bay Regional Council is already attempting to achieve. This means the council will need to reduce the amount of water allocated to local industry with or without the WCO. The NPS for Freshwater Management states that regional councils must identify and protect outstanding water bodies in their regions. One might expect a council to support the WCO to achieve this NPS outcome, but this is currently not the case for HBRC.
What is the implication for regional councils? Water Conservation Orders have different implications for regional councils depending on how they are worded. New WCOs cannot result in the revocation of existing water use consents. But they may impact on the ability of a council to issue new consents if issuing a consent would negatively affect values that must be protected. Councils can continue to issue new consents provided they do not impact the values to be protected.
Which other rivers and lakes are protected by a WCO? There are 15 existing WCOs: Motu River, 1984; Rakaia River, 1988; Lake Wairarapa, 1989; Manganuioteao River, 1989; Lake Ellesmere, 1990; Ahuriri River, 1990; Grey River, 1991; Rangitikei River, 1993; Kawarau River, 1997; Mataura River, 1997; Buller River, 2001; Motueka River, 2004; Mohaka River, 2004; Rangitata River, 2006; Oreti River, 2008.
Forest & Bird
Biodiversity The wolf spider/Anoteropsis okatainae Wolf spiders are active hunters with amazing eyesight. Anoteropsis okatainae has been found only in one location so far – the shoreline of Lake Okataina, Rotorua. This small spider is well camouflaged against the sand. Try using a torch at night to spot it – the spider’s eyes are reflected in the light.
SPIDER Unloved and uncharismatic but vital for healthy habitats, let’s celebrate some of New Zealand’s special spiders. Story by Lucy Dickie. Photos by Bryce McQuillan and Angela Simpson. They’re found in every corner of the country, from bathtubs and closets, to bush, beaches, and mountains.
The pirate spider/Australomimetus sennio Although this spider can make silk, it doesn’t build a web to catch its prey. Instead, it invades somebody else’s and devours the spider that made it, hence the name pirate spider. Australomimetus sennio uses venom to subdue its victim and then eats it.
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Many are well known to city residents, a few are so elusive they have only recently been discovered, all have vital roles to play in the ecosystem they inhabit. New Zealand is home to more than 2000 species of spiders, and thankfully the vast majority are harmless to people. Arachnologist Cor Vink, from Canterbury Museum, explores the incredible diversity of these eight-legged creatures in his book, A Photographic Guide to Spiders of New Zealand.* Spiders play an important role
in nature because they control insect populations in nearly every ecosystem. “Each year, the spider population of New Zealand consumes around 142,000 tonnes of insects and other arthropods. And that’s based on conservative estimates. By comparison, the human population of New Zealand weighs 320,000 tonnes,” Cor explains. “As predators, spiders remove pest insects and keep populations in check, but they’re also an important source of prey. Wasps, birds, amphibians, and reptiles all feed on spiders. They are considered vital parts of the ecosystem.” Sadly, however, many native spiders are threatened by habitat
The sheet web spider/Cambridgea foliata With a leg span that can reach the size of a human palm, this is one of the largest spiders in New Zealand. These spiders build enormous suspension-type webs that tangle up their prey. Males have larger fangs than females, which they use to fight off other males.
The hopping spider/Clubiona cambridgei As the name suggests, this spider will hop when disturbed, possibly as a way to avoid predators. Clubiona cambridgei is found in the North and South Islands and is common in wetlands. They live on flax and construct tunnels of silk in rolled up leaves.
STORIES loss, climate change, or competition from introduced species. Given their small size and generally unloved nature, research on these animals is lacking, compared to larger, more charismatic species. The diversity of spiders is extraordinary. Although some of our species also inhabit other countries, about 95% are unique to New Zealand. Here are five relatively unknown spiders that we share our country with.
The scuttling spider/Cycloctenis centralis Found throughout the North Island, these spiders have enormous eyes at the front of their head, giving them excellent night vision. They are fast hunters that donâ€™t use webs and are often found atop tree trunks. When disturbed, they tend to scuttle quickly to safety, hence their common name.
* A Photographic Guide to Spiders of New Zealand by Cor Vink, with photos by Bryce McQuillan and Angela Simpson, New Holland, RRP $25.99.
Forest & Bird
Predator-free New Zealand
Leon loves spending time trapping in the bush near his West Coast home.
Leon Dalziel returned to his childhood home north of Greymouth and started trapping the bush around his land. He is one of a growing band of individuals and groups working to bring back the Coast Road dawn chorus, as Lynley Hargreaves finds out. Leon Dalziel sat bolt upright in bed. Crikey, he thought, that’s a kiwi. The bird’s call was so close it must have been coming from Dalziel’s back lawn, near the spectacular Motukiekie Rocks on the Coast Road, 18km north of Greymouth. Leon began a trapping programme in the bush surrounding his home about seven years ago, and this work is now bringing birdsong back to his land. Born in 1973, he remembers seeing and hearing many birds as a child growing up in the same house. Moving back after years working in advertising agencies in New Zealand and Australia, the birds had gone. “I could go out on the lawn, and you’d be waiting half a minute to hear a bird,” says Leon.
Leon Dalziel building and servicing traps in his workshop.
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“Now that I do the trapping, it’s not a cacophony, but on a good day you do hear near continuous birdsong.” He’s one of a growing number of local individuals and groups who have begun trapping programmes on the West Coast in the last decade. This includes the West Coast Forest & Bird branch, which took over a trapping programme in 2014 that was started but abandoned by mining company Oceana Gold in Victoria Forest Park’s Rainy Creek, close to Reefton. Volunteers now manage traps and bait stations over 450ha of mostly Department of Conservation land. Another large trapping programme, which was set up by the Paparoa Wildlife Trust in 2006, has 8000ha of stoattrapping control. In fact, community trapping programmes have become so common that areas named in applications to the Department of Conservation’s community conservation fund actually overlapped. Forest & Bird’s West Coast branch decided to organise a day for all the individuals involved. Chair Kathy Gilbert expected a couple of dozen people. Instead, nearly 50 came along to the day-long get together in Barrytown in August this year. More would have made it if slips hadn’t closed the Coast Road that day. “Once people start trapping, they love it, and there a lot more people interested in trapping who haven’t yet begun,” says Kathy. A lot of the volunteers at the meeting were dealing with the same things: choosing traps, getting prices, data recovery. The outcomes of the day were a mapping
This co-ordinating role is something branches could do very successfully in other parts of the country. It helped raise our profile in the community, brought in new members, and motivated people to work together. Kathy Gilbert, Chair of Forest & Bird’s West Coast branch exercise that confirmed existing trapping areas, as well as a co-ordinating group which can take on issues such as volunteers’ health and safety, be a central point for attracting newcomers, and help direct activities in the most needed areas at the time. “Kicking off this co-ordination was a really valuable role that Forest & Bird could play,” adds Kathy. “DOC and OSPRI have an agreed partnership on pest control, but the community and conservation groups are not involved in that relationship. So we saw a need to bring everyone together to really get the big picture and plan ahead for getting the extra volunteers we need. “This role is something that branches could do very successfully in other parts of the country. It really helped raise our profile in the community, brought in new members, and motivated people to work together.” One complicating factor for this particular area is that most of the aerial predator control is done by OSPRI’s TBfree programme. Once tuberculosis-carrying possums are gone, pest control will cease – possibly on or before 2023. That could make the community organisation and trapping happening now even more important, say Leon and Kathy. “Newer trap technology isn’t going to replace aerial operations, but it could be a game changer in terms of the area an individual can manage,” says Leon. He has just applied for 200 self-resetting Goodnature traps, which would allow him to increase the area he’s managing from 12 to 780 hectares. “With box traps, that’d be crazy – you’d need a helicopter, and I’d never spend any time at home,” he added. Two days after he first heard that kiwi from his bed, Leon spotted the distinctive beak probe holes kiwi make
The distinctive great-spotted kiwi beak probe holes that Leon has started seeing near his property.
Stoats are being knocked back, allowing kiwi to return.
in the soil. Now he regularly sees these encouraging holes within 10 minutes of his home. But Leon is setting his sights higher up the hills and on another endangered bird. Kea live in the Paparoa Range, and Leon has heard one within his expanding home predator-controlled area. “I love spending that time in the bush,” he says. “It’s pretty special that I don’t have to get into a car. It’s such rough country that I know I’m the only one up there. But what it is really about for me is getting the kiwi and the kea back to where they belong.”
Map showing Leon’s predator-control area and the area he hopes to get funding to trap.
Forest & Bird
Te Reo o te Taiao The lower part of the Āniwaniwa Falls at Te Urewera is called “Te Tangi o Hinerau” (the tears of Hinerau) and commemorates the legend of Hinerau, a Tūhoe woman of high rank famed for her beauty. Photo: Michael Schwab
Te Urewera tales Melanie Nelson looks at Te Urewera’s new management plan that sets out a uniquely Tūhoe framework for managing people to benefit the land. Te Kawa o Te Urewera is a uniquely Tūhoe framework about the management of people for the benefit of Te Urewera. It rightly makes no apologies for the ways this challenges others to learn to walk on unfamiliar cultural ground. Forest & Bird supported the return of Te Urewera National Park to Ngāi Tūhoe during the tumultuous Treaty of Waitangi negotiations process and has offered ongoing support, including making a recent submission to its management plan Te Kawa o Te Urewera. “Tūhoe are on a great journey, and what they’re doing is inspiring – we’re a small part of it and it’s really exciting,” says Forest & Bird’s chief conservation adviser Kevin Hackwell, who co-wrote the submission. He encourages people to read Te Kawa before visiting Te Urewera, saying: “It is a welcoming invitation of how to relate to Te Urewera. I think their vision is brilliant, and I look forward to Forest & Bird continuing a constructive and reciprocal relationship.” Te Urewera became an independent legal identity under the Te Urewera Act 2014. It owns itself and is represented by the Te Urewera Board. The document Te Kawa o Te Urewera sets out the principles that will guide the setting of annual priorities and operational management plans, as well as decisions by the Board about activities within Te Urewera. “Te Kawa does not work the same way as other management plans, which focus on setting rules and stocktaking,” Te Urewera Board Chairman Tāmati Kruger said 32
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when the document was launched for public consultation earlier this year. “That traditional approach can frame nature as a set of discrete resources to be managed and used. Te Urewera has its own identity that is legal but also physical, environmental, cultural, and spiritual.” Dean Baigent-Mercer, Forest & Bird’s Northern conservation a co-ordinating co-ordinating dvocate, also contributed to Forest & Bird’s submission on the draft Te Kawa. He is worried about the parts of Te Urewera that haven’t seen sustained pest control. “There are vast areas of forest where introduced animals haven’t been controlled, and there’s been a shift from native wildlife with feathers to introduced animals with fur. This has underminded the natural cycle of native forest regeneration. We hope Te Kawa will be a doorway to allowing native species to flourish again.” Te Urewera Board member Jo Breese explains that Te Kawa is framed as a living system approach and embraces the traditional concept of biodiversity.
The vision is about bringing all New Zealanders and Tuhoe into a closer relationship with the land – re-establishing the connection as people to the land, and the land’s connection to us.
“The wellbeing of the forests, lands, and people are inseparable because people are part of nature. People are dependent on the living system for survival, culture, recreation, and inspiration, and the mana of the iwi, hapū, and whānau is directly related to the wellbeing of their land and forests,” she says. Te Kawa constructs a whare (house) with Te Urewera as the foundation and Tūhoe principles as the pou (main posts). The door is wide open, extending an invitation to manuhiri (visitors) to enter this whare and wānanga (discuss in depth) within the unfamiliar walls. This framework for discussions clearly necessitates in-depth engagement with Tūhoe to understand its interpretation and application. While this approach takes time and effort, ultimately it will reset the cultural paradigm, grow mutual understanding, and enable new ways of thinking to emerge. The focus of conservation from a Pākehā perspective is often on goals, outcomes, rules, land management, species, and scientific data. The building blocks of Te Kawa, however, are Tūhoe concepts, the intricacies of which may be unfamiliar to many. The Māori world is nuanced with multiple layers of principles and relationships inter-weaving. This can be uncomfortable to a culture used to linear thinking and certainty of meaning. Te Kawa expresses the living system of Te Urewera through Papatūānuku (landscape), mauri (her life), tapu (her wai/waters), āhua (her character), tātai (her heritage), whānau (her love for manuhiri/visitors), and tanata whenua (her love for Tūhoe)*. Jo says it was a was a bold and deliberate choice to not include a detailed glossary of terms and concepts within Te Kawa. “We want people to embrace a new way of thinking rather than cross-reference. If the principles are robust and right, then they are an enduring touchstone for all decision-making. Anecdotal feedback confirms it is already supporting field staff to make operational decisions and kaumātua to rebuild iwi connection.” Jo, who was previously CEO of World Wildlife Fund New Zealand and a member of the New Zealand Conservation Authority, says she always felt the separation between biodiversity and cultural heritage conservation in New Zealand is a flaw in how we think about our protected areas. She says she enjoyed the fresh thinking through this intensive and sometimes challenging process. “Conservation is ultimately a social construct. If we’re being true to who we are as a people, that separation has to be done away with and a far more holistic approach taken benefiting both people and nature, not one at the expense of the other. We have a responsibility to make
sure we do things right for Tūhoe and New Zealand. That’s a very galvanising thought.” Jo advises people to listen, be open, respectful of difference, and not be afraid to ask if there are concepts and approaches that are not readily understood. “The Board intends the concept of mutuality and reciprocity to become a way of visiting Te Urewera. The vision is about bringing all New Zealanders and Tūhoe into a closer relationship with the land – re-establishing the connection as people to the land, and the land’s connection to us. One of the first steps is rebuilding traditional knowledge then aligning that with modern thinking, science, and insights. “If you haven’t been to visit Te Urewera, do visit. There is new development, a wonderful environment, and many recreational opportunities. Come and see what’s happening there, come with an open heart and mind.” *See http://www.ngaituhoe.iwi.nz/te-kawa-o-teurewera for further explanations.
Forest & Bird’s Northern Conservation Advocate, Dean Baigent-Mercer.
Te Urewera Board member Jo Breese encourages people to visit with an open heart and mind.
The Te Urewera Board’s inaugural hui in 2014. The Board represents Te Urewera, which has been its own legal entity since 2014.
Melanie Nelson is a bilingual and cross-cultural consultant with a background in conservation. She helps organisations strengthen cross-cultural understanding and collaboration through writing, strategy, advice, facilitation, and training. See www.melanienelson.co.nz.
Forest & Bird
The Big Read
Return of the
Buller's shearwaters taking off in the Hauraki Gulf. Photo: Darryl Torckler
The Hauraki Gulf has a special significance for seabirds because it supports onethird of New Zealand’s species. But many seabirds are in serious trouble, and establishing a network of suitable island and mainland breeding areas is vital. By Emma Cronin. Seabirds used to thrive on New Zealand’s mainland before humans arrived. More than a billion of them were gliding and swooping along our coastlines and far inland, with some species returning every year from as far away as Japan, Alaska, or South America to breed. But seabird numbers plummeted after the arrival of humans, the introduction and spread of predators, and extensive habitat clearing. There are currently thought to be about 14 million pairs of breeding seabirds in New Zealand, a far cry from the estimated 1.2 billion birds our land and seas once supported. Most mainland seabird breeding sites are now devoid of their original inhabitants, and only a few breeding populations remain today. These include the great gannet colonies at Cape Kidnappers and Muriwai, northern royal albatross at Taiaroa Head, the Westland petrel breeding grounds at Punakaiki, Hutton’s shearwater in the seaward Kaikoura range, and Fiordland penguin colonies in South Westland and Fiordland. Fortunately, our network of offshore islands has provided a safer haven for seabirds, particularly our predator-free islands, where some seabird species are thriving, although others are barely managing to hold on. Where pests have been eradicated or managed, seabirds are returning to their former breeding sites on the mainland and offshore islands – for example, grey-faced petrel at Whangarei Heads and Tawharanui, and the New Zealand storm petrel on Little Barrier Island/Hauturu. The number of success stories is growing. As areas become “known” to seabirds, they begin to return en masse of their own accord and establish a breeding colony.
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The Hauraki Gulf’s significance The Hauraki Gulf has special significance with respect to seabirds. Gifted with an abundance of off-shore island and productive waters, the area supports 27 (about one-third) of New Zealand’s seabird species. These include the only known breeding locations for Buller’s shearwaters, New Zealand fairy tern, Pycroft’s petrel, black petrel, and the New Zealand storm petrel. These and other species are recognised in the identification of 13 globally significant IBAs in the Hauraki Gulf from a total of 210 IBAs in New Zealand (Important Bird Areas, Forest & Bird, 2014). The entire north-eastern coast, including the Hauraki Gulf, is included in the “North Eastern North Island” seaward extension IBA. This area is triggered by 14 seabird species: five species with pelagic ranges included in this area, five species observed regularly feeding within the area, and four other species of significance. Areas included in this IBA are the North Auckland Seabird Flyway; Te Hauturu-o-Toi/Little Barrier Island (Cook’s petrel, black petrel, and New Zealand storm petrel); Hirakimata, Great Barrier Island (black petrel); Mahuki Island, off Great Barrier Island (gannet); and the Mokohinau Islands, north of Great Barrier Island (common diving petrel, grey-faced petrel, white-faced storm petrel, and numerous other non-trigger species). These IBAs recognise the special significance for seabirds of the outer Hauraki Gulf, and its links to the inner Gulf including the Auckland region. A further 21 island and mainland IBA sites occur within this seaward extension area, signifying the richness of the entire area for seabird biodiversity and its conservation
Fairy tern and chick. Photo: David Hallett
Pycroft's petrel. Photo: Graeme Taylor
New Zealand storm petrel. Photo: Neil Fitzgerald
Looking towards Little Barrier Island from Mt Hobson, on Great Barrier Island. Credit: Rachel Hufton
The Hauraki Gulf is the only known breeding area for Buller’s shearwaters the New Zealand fairy tern, Pycroft’s petrel, black petrel, and the New Zealand storm petrel. value. The North Auckland Seabird Flyway has been identified by the movement of seabirds across the North Auckland Peninsula, particularly Cook’s petrels flying at night between the Tasman Sea and Hauraki Gulf, and the New Zeland fairy tern from coast to coast. However, it is likely other terns, gulls and shags, and pelagic seabirds such as black petrel, Pycroft’s petrel, and grey-faced petrel also use this “flyway”.
Special seabird locations Hauturu/Little Barrier Island is an extremely special location and one of the most important reserves of its kind in the world. It is a veritable Jurassic Park, supporting a treasure trove of our rare and endangered land birds, bats, reptiles, and invertebrates – 40 species of birds, two bat species, and 14 species of reptiles – in addition to many seabird species. These include the only breeding site of the endangered New Zealand storm petrel, 98% of the world’s population of breeding Cook’s petrels, and a satellite population of breeding black petrel. The Cook’s petrel population increased notably after eradication of kiore in 2004, despite cats being eradicated in the 1980s, which also possibly saved the New Zealand storm petrel from extinction. Burgess Island within the Mokohinau Islands group was largely cleared of vegetation when the lighthouse was built in 1883. Ninety years later (in 1973), goats were removed from the island by the Wildlife Service, and in 1990 kiore were removed by DOC during the first planned rodent eradication in the world to use aerial bait application. The island was left to recover naturally, and 27 years on the island supports seven species of burrowing seabirds: grey-faced petrel, fluttering shearwater, sooty shearwater, little shearwater, common diving petrel, white-faced
Map showing Hauraki Gulf Marine Park. The entire area, including the mainland and off-shore islands, is an internationally important area for some of the world’s most at-risk seabirds.
storm petrel, black-winged petrel, and little penguin. New Zealand storm petrel, Buller’s shearwater, fairy prion, and flesh-footed shearwater have also been sighted here. The proximity of the Mokohinau Islands and Hauturu/ Forest & Bird
The Big Read Little Barrier with the existing IBAs on Great Barrier and Mahuki Islands indicate that eradication and/or management of pests on Great Barrier Island and other nearby islands – for example, Rakitu, would facilitate rapid seabird re-population of these areas. Black petrels likely survived on Great Barrier because of their large size and fierceness in the face of predators. Other smaller seabirds that might otherwise have bred (such as storm petrels) would have been eliminated by rats. Pest eradication and better island management would further secure safe breeding sites for seabirds and assist in improving their conservation status. The considerable size and diversity of habitats on Great Barrier would assist in providing a buffer to extreme events and a potential “backstop” or refugia for populations on other smaller islands. The establishment of a network of island and mainland areas providing suitable seabird breeding habitat is vital to alleviate the threatened status of many of our seabird species, to prosper future seabird biodiversity, and to bring real meaning to our “Seabird Capital of the World” status.
Mt Hobson, on Great Barrier Island, where most of the island's black petrel burrows are located. Photo: Rachel Hufton
IMPORTANT BIRD AREAS
Fisheries impact The gruesome discovery of 18 flesh-footed shearwaters with slit throats and bashed-in skulls found dumped near Ruakaka in December 2016 is a shocking reminder of barbaric acts of seabird bycatch, probably related to recreational fishers. Given the birds were most likely dumped from a fish bin, it is possible the birds were caught on a beach-based long line (using a kontiki). There were no hooks remaining on the birds, but they had evidently been hooked and entangled in fishing line. The IUCN listing for this species was lifted earlier in the same month from least concern to near threatened largely on the basis of considerable reductions in their population caused by fisheries interactions in New Zealand and Australia.
Cook's petrel. Photo: Neil Fitzgerald
New Zealand white-capped mollymawk. Photo: Neil Fitzgerald
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New Zealand’s rich seabird diversity has been recognised by the establishment of a network of internationally recognized Important Bird Areas (IBAs) for seabirds. Important Birds Areas identify and recognise sites of special significance for supporting seabirds using a series of global criteria defined by threshold population sizes, ranges, and threatened species status. They include areas that support sea, land, shore, and water birds, and typically include either specific breeding locations for particular species – for example, black petrels at Great Barrier Island – or broader areas encompassing multiple species and sites. Other IBA types include “flyways”, which cover movement of birds to and from a colony (and would otherwise not be included for any significant bird or biodiversity values) and “seaward extensions”, which recognise the areas used by seabirds for feeding, maintenance behaviours, and social interactions. Seaward extensions also capture the passage of pelagic species to and from colonies and congregations close to breeding islands (see New Zealand’s Seabirds, Forest & Bird, 2014).
Black petrel. Photo: Cameron Long
Albatross, shearwaters, and petrels are some of the better known pelagic bird species. Pelagic describes a bird that spends a significant portion of its life on the open ocean, rarely venturing to land except to breed. Pelagic birds may be found hundreds or thousands of miles offshore and are powerful fliers that can remain aloft for hours while gliding or soaring. Other pelagic species include frigatebirds and tropicbirds.
HOW CAN YOU HELP? Today, an astonishing one-third of the world’s 359 seabird species are found within New Zealand’s territorial seas and Exclusive Economic Zone. This means we are “guardians” for 140 different seabird species, 86 of them endemic or native to this country. Such rich biodiversity allows New Zealand to promote itself to visitors as the “Seabird Capital of the World”. But many tourists don’t realise that almost half of these species (46%) are threatened – that’s more seabird species than in any other country on Earth. These birds are struggling to deal with a multitude of threats on land and sea. That’s why Forest & Bird wants to see better management of a range of coastal and marine activities, including fishing and mining, within New Zealand waters, and more sympathetic coastal development. Forest & Bird and Birds New Zealand encourage you to help monitor and conserve seabirds and Important Bird Areas.
Conservation biologist Emma Cronin (centre) raised awareness about the risk of recreational fishing to seabirds during Forest & Bird's Off the Hook campaign last year.
To help, you can: n Sponsor or donate to Forest & Bird www.forestandbird.org and help us with our seabird conservation and advocacy work. n Share information about IBAs – check out Forest & Bird’s published scientific resources and reports about seabirds at http://www.forestandbird.org.nz/important-bird-areas. n Champion the value of your IBA to local people and your local council, talk to your community – to neighbours, friends, schools, or special interest groups. n Join your local Forest & Bird branch: Do they have a local IBA support group/larger regional group? If not, why not create one? n Observe and monitor: Look after seabirds at your local IBA. n Do practical conservation: volunteer for pest control and revegetation projects in an IBA. n Be climate conscious: Reduce your carbon footprint.
Specialists in Nature Tours since 1986 • Informative naturalist/birding leaders • Small groups (6 – 12 participants) • Private charters available • Fully accommodated & camping tours
New Zealand South Island Wildlife & Wilderness Expedition
16 Day Accommodated Tour – Departs Queenstown 10 February 2018 This tour is designed for nature lovers as we travel off the standard tourist track and explore the breathtakingly beautiful lower south Island and Stewart Island.
Sri Lanka Wildlife, History & Culture
16 Day Accommodated Tour – Departs Colombo 19 March 2018 Join Tom Grove and experienced Sri Lankan naturalist/birder Saman Veediyabandara as we help you to discover Sri Lanka’s abundant and exotic natural riches, ancient historic sites and a rare insight into rural Sri Lankan life. No one else offers such a diverse yet comprehensive tour.
W.A. Pilbara Reef & Ranges
15 Day Camping Tour – Departs Perth 7 April 2018 Include visits to: Abrolhos Islands , Monkey Mia, Coral Bay, Ningaloo Reef & Karijini National Park. Our flagship nature tour — Exotic marine life, pristine islands, vast varieties of bird life, ancient landscapes and breathtaking gorges.
Flinders Ranges and Lake Eyre Basin Expedition
11 Day Camping / Accom Tour – Departs Adelaide 7 May 2018 This tour is a must-do for all who long to experience the Australian outback. We will cover some of South Australia’s most historic outback locations in the spectacular Flinders Ranges and around Lake Eyre. Both regions offer vastly different examples of our great country and offer an opportunity for a wide range of wildlife sightings.
Rudall River Expedition
13 Day Camping Tour – Departs Perth 23 June 2018 Join us as we head to the very remote, harsh, yet beautiful Rudall River National Park. Experience the wildlife that the very remote, harsh yet beautiful Rudall River National Park has to offer. Situated approximately 400 Km east of Newman in Western Australia’s Great Sandy Desert. This is truly one of the most remote wilderness areas in the world.
13 Day Camping Tour – Departs Broome 4 July 2018 A different twist on the Kimberley, we including exploring along the Fitzroy River flood plain around Camballin, the best of the Gibb River Road including visits to Mt Elizabeth and Home Valley Stations. Add this to a visit to the Mitchell Plateau where experiences include the spectacular Mitchell and Mertons Falls plus great examples ancient rock art along with the regions wonderful flora and fauna you have a tour to good to miss.
Contact us for our full 2018 tour program: • Free Call: 1800 676 016 • Web: www.coateswildlifetours.com.au • Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Forest & Bird
Christmas books Here is a round up of recently published books for nature lovers, travellers, and children. You can buy any of these books online and take advantage of a 20% reader discount until the end of March 2018 thanks to the generous support of publishers Potton & Burton.
A Place for the Heart Peta Carey RRP $59.99 Hardback Dave Comer was a renowned, highly respected photographer and location scout, known as “The man who found Middle Earth”. He lived much of his life in and around Fiordland, New Zealand, photographing the region from the 1970s until he died in late 2014. This book presents some of his most beautiful and compelling images, alongside the story of Dave’s life and work (including location scouting for Lord of The Rings and The Hobbit) and his lifelong connection with New Zealand’s wilderness.
New Zealand Rob Suisted RRP $49.99 Hardback Rob Suisted is one of New Zealand’s best known photographers and his photos can be seen in many places, including New Zealand Post postage 38
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stamps and New Zealand bank notes. Rob’s sumptuous new book, New Zealand, is a tribute to the quality and depth of his landscape photography, a collection of his best work that reflects a lifetime of interest in, and deep concern for, the remarkable diversity of the New Zealand landscape.
Edmund Hillary A Biography Michael Gill RRP $59.99 Hardback with dust jacket This new and important biography of Sir Edmund Hillary, a truly great New Zealander, breaks new ground among previous accounts of his life. The author, Michael Gill, was a close friend of Edmund Hillary’s for more than 50 years, accompanying him on many expeditions, and becoming heavily involved in his Himalayan aid work. He was also granted access by Sir Edmund’s children to a large archive of private papers and photos deposited in the Auckland Museum after his death.
Kahurangi Stories – More Tales from Northwest Nelson Gerard Hindmarsh RRP $39.99 Paperback Following the success of Kahurangi Calling, this sequel volume of stories from the north-west Nelson
backcountry is a compelling blend of natural and social history. An area of astonishing ecological complexity, the area has generated a wonderfully rich and colourful human history. Gerard Hindmarsh tells the stories of the fascinating characters who have travelled and lived here, including early explorers, gold miners, tussock top graziers, early forest rangers, trampers, and other adventurers.
High Country Stations of Lake Tekapo Mary Hobbs RRP $59.99 Hardback Author Mary Hobbs, a longtime resident of the Mackenzie Country, has unravelled the history of eight iconic high country stations from around Lake Tekapo – Godley Peaks, Lilybank, Mt Gerald, Richmond, Mt Hay, Tekapo, Balmoral, and Glenmore. She has assembled a set of stories that capture the flavour and character of a unique part of rural New Zealand. Lavishly illustrated with both contemporary images and many old, previously unpublished photographs, this is a fascinating and beautiful book.
Aoteaoroa The New Zealand Experience Various photographers RRP $29.99 Paperback Using the best of contemporary digital photography, Aotearoa The New Zealand Experience, showcases both the extraordinary landscapes that draw people to this country, and the fantastic opportunities that visitors have to enjoy themselves and experience what these islands have to offer. Key visitor attractions from Auckland to the Southern Lakes are well covered with stunning, bright imagery that brilliantly captures what it is like to experience New Zealand.
Out of the Ocean, into the Fire Bruce W. Hayward RRP $49.99 Hardback For decades teachers, biologists, geographers, and interested members of the public have asked for an up-to-date account of how Northland, Auckland, and the Coromandel Peninsula and their landforms were formed. Here, for the first time, is an accessible account of the history in the rocks, fossils, and volcanoes of the region. Bruce Hayward is a research geologist, paleontologist, and marine ecologist, who spent most of his career studying aspects of the natural and human history of northern New Zealand.
Up The River Gillian Candler & Ned Barraud RRP $19.99 paperback RRP $29.99 hardback The sixth title in the award winning “explore and discover” series gives children an opportunity to look under
the surface and see what animals live, or should live, in or around New Zealand’s waterways. Animals range from the familiar pukeko to the rarely seen bittern, from the iconic eel to tiny whitebait, and some of the many barely known aquatic insects.
Watch out for Weka Ned Barraud RRP $19.99 paperback RRP $29.99 hardback While Alf, the DOC hut warden, is taking a swim, a curious weka steals his precious watch. He must get it back. That evening, Alf thinks up a cunning plan and eventually recovers his watch while also discovering the weka’s treasure pile. Based on a true story, set in the Abel Tasman National Park, this entertaining picture book will delight young and old alike.
It’s my Egg
Toroa’s Journey Maria Gill RRP $19.99 paperback RRP $29.99 hardback Based on the true story of Toroa, the 500th chick to hatch at a breeding colony in Dunedin, Toroa’s Journey is an evocative story about the life cycle of a royal albatross as it grows from chick to adult. Before he fledged, a ranger attached a transmitter to track his flight path. This book tells Toroa’s story and the problems he might have encountered in the Pacific Ocean.
Buy any of the 11 Potton & Burton books on this page at www.pottonandburton.co.nz and use the code FOREST17 to receive a 20% discount on the RRP. Offer expires 31 March 2018. Time to get shopping!
Heather Hunt & Kennedy Warne RRP $19.99 paperback RRP $29.99 hardback Kiwi are facing a precarious battle for survival on mainland New Zealand as predators, especially cats, dogs, and stoats, take their toll. Inspired by the success of Backyard Kiwi, a kiwi recovery project in Northland, illustrator Heather Hunt has teamed up with writer Kennedy Warne to produce another stunning natural history book for children.
www.pottonandburton.co.nz Use the code FOREST17
It’s my Egg captures the reality of life for a kiwi trying to hatch an egg. Also available in hardback.
Forest & Bird
A copper skink/ Oligosoma aeneum one of four lizard species found at Pukerua Bay.
Whitaker’s warriors Conservation volunteers are determined to give lizards the best chance of survival at Pukerua Bay north of Wellington. By Gillian Candler. There’s no signs to tell you where the Department of Conservation’s Pukerua Bay Scientific Reserve starts or finishes. The only indication that you’re there might be an encounter with a couple of volunteers clearing predator traps. It’s been five years since volunteers from Friends of Mana Island (FOMI) took over monitoring the predator traps around the reserve, ensuring that the traps would be emptied more frequently. FOMI took on this mainland project to give volunteers opportunities to develop their skills and to help protect this lizard-rich reserve, which is located on the west coast of the North Island just around the corner from Mana Island and looking towards Kāpiti Island. In 2016, the residents of this small coastal community got Predator Free Pukerua Bay up and running, increasing trapping efforts in gardens and on public land. Within six months, 20% of the 700 or so 40
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households had signed up, and the number keeps on growing. A big motivator for many that have joined, apart from protecting native bird life, is the desire to protect the lizards seen in gardens and sheds. Many
A volunteer holding a skink from one of the pitfall traps. Photo: Gillian Candler
people report sightings of common geckos and skinks on their properties. Some hope that they might have spotted a Whitaker’s skink, but their nocturnal habit makes that unlikely, that and the fact that none have been found by DOC since 2010. The Spring Issue of Forest and Bird magazine was correct in stating that the Whitaker’s skink’s disappearance from Pukerua Bay hasn’t gone unnoticed (“And then there were none” by Ann Graeme). It’s true that it’s been some years since one was found, but the local community hasn’t given up looking. We’d like to think it is a bit premature to state that they are locally extinct. The search for Whitaker’s skink has drawn attention to other lizard species. For the last three summers, volunteers have assisted DOC honorary research associate Don Newman to count, identify, and release all lizards that are caught in pitfall traps. These volunteers
Whitaker's skink were last spotted at Pukerua Bay in 2010. Photo: Tony Jewell
have picked up the monitoring to support and expand the work that DOC and researchers had been doing over the decades. There’s always the hope that a Whitaker’s skink might be found, but in the meantime volunteers are learning to identify the four other species found in the Pukerua Bay Scientific Reserve. Common or northern grass skinks, brown skinks, copper skinks, and Raukawa or common geckos all make their home here. The count gives an indication of what’s happening with all the lizard species. There’s some concern that, although the “common” species are holding their own, brown and copper skinks may be declining. Inspired by an intensive
predator trapping project in lizard habitat at Whitireia Park, in Titahi Bay, led by Angus Hulme-Moir, the Predator Free Pukerua Bay group is making plans to do the same in Pukerua Bay. So, while the search for Whitaker’s skinks will continue, it’s hoped that all lizards will have better protection and that the group can contribute to developing mainland management techniques that are desperately needed nationally. Angus Hulme-Moir says of the project, “We are quietly hopeful that by controlling everything on small areas of land, mice included, we can improve the outcomes for lizards. Mice are tricky creatures, which makes controlling them challenging.”
Discover the southern Kaipara with our unguided multi-day catered walks through a unique private farm and intensive conservation project featuring native bush, salt-marsh wetlands, coastal forest and rolling farmland. Relax each night in unique accommodation and enjoy delicious home-madefood.
Come and join us for a special adventure in a special part of N.Z.
Monitoring predator traps on the steep hillside at Pukerua Bay. Photo: Gillian Candler
Gillian Candler is a Forest & Bird member living in Pukerua Bay. She has monitored traps and counted lizards for Friends of Mana Island and is actively involved in Predator Free Pukerua Bay. When Gillian isn’t out looking for lizards, she is writing award-winning children’s books about New Zealand’s natural world – see page 38. Forest & Bird
Forest & Bird is calling on the new government to make a “zero bykill” pledge to help save the NZ sea lion.
Commercial fishing link to
sea lion decline
A mature bull New Zealand sea lion poses between naps among the tussock on sub-Antarctic Campbell Island. Photo: Kyle Morrison/NIWA
A new study shows that fisheries bycatch is responsible for the New Zealand sea lion’s sad decline. Getting caught in fishing nets is a major cause of death for the increasingly endangered New Zealand sea lion, according to new research from the University of Otago, Massey University, and the University of Toronto. Scientists from the three universities have analysed government data on fisheries bycatch and the New Zealand sea lion population to investigate the role commercial fishing has played in the near 50% decline of the species. Their conclusion, which was published in the international journal PNAS in October, is that commercial fishing continues to affect their New Zealand sea lion numbers, despite measures since 2001 to protect them from being killed in fishing nets. The authors believe the current management of sea lion bycatch in the arrow squid fishery around the sub-Antarctic Auckland Islands places the population at risk of extinction, because the New Zealand government assumes fishing is not a major threat to the species. Lead author and population ecologist Dr Stefan Meyer, from the Otago Department of Zoology, says the study presents a major breakthrough in understanding why New Zealand sea lions are declining at their main breeding colonies on the Auckland Islands. “Several threats, such as disease and fisheries bycatch, have been postulated as causes of the sea lion decline. However, until this research, studies have been unable to link these threats to the decline.” Since 2001, sea lion exclusion devices (SLEDs) have been used in the arrow squid fishery to stop sea lions drowning in the trawl nets. Although the observed bycatch has declined, there is no firm evidence the devices have successfully removed the bycatch threat. “What information is available raises concerns that the
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devices may be hiding sea lion deaths by allowing dead sea lions to fall out of the nets at sea or causing injury that reduces life expectancy or reproductive ability,” says Associate Professor Bruce Robertson, of Otago’s Department of Zoology. Dr Meyer adds: “We now know that sea lion exclusion devices have, despite all assumptions, obscured bycatch of New Zealand sea lions and that this factor posed a significant and ongoing impact to the population. Our findings are therefore a game changer in New Zealand sea lion management.” In the recently released New Zealand sea lion threat management plan (TMP), published by the Department of Conservation and the Ministry for Primary Industries, the government committed to halting the species’ decline within the next five years, aiming for a stable or growing population within the next 20 years. The current focus of the New Zealand TMP is on reducing pup deaths because fishing impacts are, incorrectly, thought to be only minor. Associate Professor Robertson questions the downplaying of the role of commercial fishing in the sea lion decline. “The PNAS study shows the impact from the squid fishery is likely a key driver of the New Zealand sea lion decline. “With fishing threats being ignored in sea-lion management, it is hard to see how the government’s goals to increase the population will be achieved. “We hope that our study will lead to meaningful management. The good news is there are a range of options open to the government to reduce the impact of fishing on the sea lion population, while still allowing commercial fishing in the New Zealand sub-Antarctic.”
Real journeys, real people Award-winning tourism company Real Journeys has donated $47,000 to Forest & Bird over the past two years through its Cruise for a Cause. By Jess Winchester. “Forest & Bird is all about what I’m all about,” says Real Journeys guide Craig Hiestand as he drives a busload of our supporters along the spectacular route from Queenstown to Lake Manapouri for the start of their Doubtful Sound cruise adventure in September. After spending the weekend cruising on a boat with the Real Journeys crew, it’s clear every member of the team has been hired because of their love of conservation. Or maybe they are naturally drawn to this very special company that prides itself on sharing the astounding beauty of Fiordland. Craig tells me how he is encouraging his children to get involved with protecting the iconic South Island landscape. “Don’t get me started on the bloody pine trees. It’s sad we’re losing so much of our native tussock land,” he says as he waves at the hillside of golden tussock outside the bus window. Another Real Journeys’ guide, Alan McLeod, picks us up from the far shore of the lake. “We all get involved with checking the bait stations,” he explains, as the bus climbs and weaves along the sub-Alpine road. There are traps at regular intervals along the route, through the forest to Deep Cove. “It’s quite a sense of satisfaction knowing you’re personally helping to protect the birds. If we didn’t do this, we’d be overrun.” Today one of New Zealand’s most respected and successful tourism companies, Real Journeys was founded in 1954 by Les and Olive Hutchins, who were instrumental, together with Forest & Bird, in saving Lake Manapouri with a campaign credited with changing the face of conservation in New Zealand. Les gained influence and support for the Save Manapouri
Campaign, much as Real Journeys inspires visitors to protect the wilderness area of Fiordland today – by taking them there to witness it first-hand. Neighbouring Lake Monowai and the surrounding beech forests had been devastated by changes in water levels – the same fate the government had in mind for Lake Manapouri – so Les made it his mission to make sure that politicians, newspaper editors, and tourism leaders realised the impact for themselves. Les offered free jet boat rides on Lake Monowai and later, with the support of the Mount Cook Group, flew the great and the good over the site of the destruction, securing the backing of some of the most influential individuals in the country. Today, Les’s legacy lives on, not least through the Conservation Foundation set up in his memory to enable people to access outdoor education programmes and to experience New Zealand’s southern national parks and conservation areas. The Board of Real Journeys has also made a meaningful commitment to the restoration of native species, including tackling those pine trees that Craig feels so strongly about. In 2013, Real Journeys began a 10-year plan to eradicate thousands of wildings conifers from the 155ha Walter Peak. And over on Cooper Island, where once Captain Cook remarked on the deafening sound of birdsong, ambitious work funded by the company’s fundraising is taking place to eliminate rats and stoats from 1779ha of land and bring back the dawn chorus. Real Journeys was founded by dedicated conservationists more than 60 years ago, and today its management and staff are still striving to make New Zealand a better place to live for future generations. Forest & Bird is proud to partner in their efforts.
Forest & Bird
In the field
Male South Island rifleman/ tītipounamu. Photo: Glenda Rees
Ann Graeme shares inspiring stories of native birds and insects that have re-appeared or returned to live in an area after community pest control is carried out for another species. She calls it the “Lazarus effect”. It rained in the night. My pack is heavy with rat bait, and I am following East 5, a bait line marked with pink ribbon, through the forest. Up, down, up the bank. It’s steep and slippery, and I pull myself higher, clutching the tree trunks. There’s the bait station. I open it, pull out the wire, slip on the baits, close the lid, and look about for the next station. It’s far below, its pink ribbon fluttering. I’m tired and wet and muddy, and I can’t help thinking, “Is it worth it? Am I doing any good?” Then, as I put my hand on a fallen log to heave myself over, I see an insect. Not just any old insect but an amazing and bizarre insect – a giraffe weevil. It looks at me with its beady eyes and waves the little antennae at the tip of its ridiculously long snout. Those antennae show it is a male because female giraffe weevils sensibly have their antennae further along
the snout, out of the way for digging. Giraffe weevils are not rare, but they do make crunchy mouthfuls for a rat. This weevil, brazenly clambering over a rotten log, confirms my hope that our rat control is effective and that the bait I am carrying is giving the native plants and animals a better chance of survival. 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. Here are some of their stories. More than 25 years ago landowners on the Russell peninsula, in Northland, engaged Laurence Gordon to protect kiwi living on their properties. Kiwi flourished under
Giraffe weevil. Photo: Steve Reekie
Weka chicks. Photo: Murray Drake
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his pest-control regime and, since the turn of the century, his work has been enhanced and extended by the Russell Kiwi Protection Trust, an initiative of Russell Landcare Trust. Now there are more than 500 kiwi on the peninsula, and birds can be heard calling in the township of Russell. And it wasn’t only the kiwi who benefited from pest control. To the residents’ delight, they began to see tomtits, which hadn’t been seen for decades. The little birds can rear their chicks more safely now there are few rats, stoats, and possums to raid their nests. In 1995, North Island weka, a threatened species, were released on the peninsula. They were captive-bred birds reared by Forest & Bird members. They too have prospered and now number several thousand. And these are only the tip of the iceberg. No doubt a host of other unseen and unnoticed native animals are flourishing thanks to the pest control intended to help the kiwi. Like tomtits, the tiny riflemen are vulnerable to nestraiding predators. Riflemen had not been recorded in the Kaimai Range, west of Tauranga, but seven years after pest control began in nearby Aongatete, they turned up in the forest there! A few birds must have been surviving all along, and now pest control has allowed them to breed and multiply. Riflemen too are being seen again in the Talbot forest of South Canterbury, and so are tūī. That is thanks to the volunteer efforts of the Talbot Forest Working Group. In Wellington, residents may be lucky enough to enjoy a visiting kākā, a bird unseen in the city in living memory. They are flying from Zealandia, that pest-free jewel in suburban Karori. Not every pest-control and restoration project will see the resurrection of a charismatic species, but every project will enjoy more subtle signs, such as the clematis flowers that, thanks to volunteer possum control, now delight people driving from Mangawhai to Langs Beach. Every pest we kill means fewer leaves or eggs or beetles are eaten and more flowers, fantails, and insects thrive. And as well as these visible signs, the consequences of a healthy forest mean less erosion, clean water in the streams, and a greater store of carbon, the ultimate gift in a warming world. Ann Graeme is a volunteer at the Aongatete Forest Project, south of Katikati, in the Western Bay of Plenty.
Male North Island tomtit. Photo: Philip Disberry
Clematis flowers: Photo: Ann Evans
Bellbird/korimako. Photo: Ann-Marie Cervin
The bellbird’s song Bellbirds or korimako used to live throughout our native forests, but about 150 years ago they mysteriously disappeared from Auckland and Northland. The birds continued to thrive on Hauturu/ Little Barrier Island and on Tiritiri Matangi, but back on the mainland attempts to reintroduce them met with little success. No bellbirds bred in Tawharanui, a regional park near Auckland, although they had been occasionally sighted. Then, with fencing and pest control, the park became a pest-free “mainland island”. Within a year, bellbirds had established a breeding population and their numbers soared. Now they are the second most common native bush bird in the park. So where did the bellbirds come from? The islands of Tiritiri Matangi and Hauturu both lie at roughly the same distance from Tawharanui. The birds might have flown from either. The answer was revealed by an ingenious experiment. The song of bellbirds from both islands was recorded and played to the Tawharanui birds. Their response to the Hauturu bellbirds’ song showed that that was the island they had come from.
Tūī. Photo: Craig McKenzie
Forest & Bird
Focus on flora Wilding conifers compete with native flora and fauna for sunlight and water, and can severely alter natural landscapes. The highest priority areas for wilding pines control are Molesworth Station, the headwaters of Southern Alps lakes and rivers, the Wakatipu Basin, and the North Island’s central plateau. Photo Val Clemens
What’s the future for
wilding pine control? Mary Ralston looks at efforts being taken to control wilding pines, an expensive and deadly pest that is destroying native biodiversity throughout New Zealand. It was a rare example of farmers, conservationists, and the previous government being on the same page. In May’s budget, the National government announced wilding conifer control to the tune of $16m over four years. This was on top of the about $11m spent by regional councils, the Department of Conservation, volunteer groups, and farmers every year. The current programme of action is the first time different agencies have worked together to tackle the problem throughout the whole country. Wilding conifers are one of New Zealand’s worst plant pest groups. They have been increasing at a rate of about 5% every year, with more than 2.6 million hectares invaded to some extent. Biodiversity and landscape values, water yield, and farms are negatively affected. The case for controlling wildings on a landscape scale is compelling: they produce viable seed from a young age that can travel far on the wind. When those seeds germinate, it is only about eight years before the trees are sending out another wave of seeds and the problem escalates downwind. They invade farmland, tussock grasslands, riverbeds, and the alpine zone. The worst species are Pinus contorta (lodgepole pine), Pinus nigra (Corsican pine), larch, and Douglas fir. Unlike many pest species, conifers are relatively easy to control: the seed lasts for only about five years in the ground. They are easy to spot and susceptible to 46
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chemicals. It just takes money and political will. The four-year funding announced is not enough for eradication, only containment, which may be short-sighted because it means control will be needed in perpetuity. Peter Willemse, of the Department of Conservation, says he hopes this is just the start of a much longer funded programme. There are major biodiversity gains to be had from the control programme, particularly in tussock grasslands and shrublands. The degree of loss of biodiversity from wildings depends on the level of infestation: if they can be cleared before the core of native species is gone, then natives will probably be able to re-establish, but in areas with a continuous cover of conifers, most native biodiversity will already be lost. Sir Alan Mark, who was one of the first to raise the alarm about wilding conifers, says that in his experience, if native cover is lost, then the exotic grass browntop will move in after conifers are controlled. Natives may return. However, tussocks are not very competitive, but shrubs may slowly establish. Clearing the wildings born of misguided government trials, farm shelter belts, amenity plantings, and plantations is one thing, stopping the next wave is another, and some councils have now put restrictions on which species can be planted in their region.
Douglas fir warning Peter Willemse, of DOC, warns of a looming crisis with Douglas fir. Shade tolerant and able to invade beech forest, it is a very popular forestry plantation species, widely planted throughout the South Island, and there are thousands of hectares of trees about to reach coning age. Traditionally, it was not considered a dangerous wilding species, but in recent years it has really taken off because of the exotic mycorrhizal fungi, which aids growth, becoming established in the soil here, and it seems that Douglas fir can also utilise the mycorrhizal fungi associated with other species such as beech. “Douglas fir makes contorta pine look like a joke. It can grow to over 1800m elevation and has no pests or diseases here to slow it down. It is our biggest threat – and we’re not learning the lessons from the past,” says Peter. “Traditionally, the problem has been contorta. In the MacKenzie now, we’re seeing a dynamic change in species distribution – as we win with contorta, there’s more ponderosa, nigra, and larch wildings, the species grown around homesteads for shelter. Another issue is that the second wave of wildings can start coning from three years because of the headstart they get from the mycorrhiza established by the earlier ones.” One approach may augur well for the future. The Queenstown Lakes District Council has embarked on a visionary management plan to cope with the Douglas fir wildings originating from its 172ha Coronet Forest. The trees are to be harvested early to eliminate their seed spread. Thirty percent of the area will be replanted in native forest species, 10% in grey shrubland and tussock grassland, and the remainder oversown with exotic grass to suppress woody weeds. This revegetation will satisfy the requirements of the Emissions Trading Scheme.
Wilding conifers are one of the worst weed problems New Zealand faces. Photo: Dave Allen/NIWA
This plan will not be cheap – the timber, although harvested early, has reasonable value but will not cover the costs of harvesting, replanting with natives, and the ongoing maintenance of the site. But when the costs of down-stream wilding control are taken into account, it is financially worthwhile, not to mention the benefits accrued from increased native biodiversity, natural character, water yield, and recreation opportunities. And by tackling the threat from plantations with a serious solution, QLDC is showing leadership that other plantation owners may follow.
Forest & Bird volunteers make a difference The tussock grasslands of the Lake Heron and Spider Lakes area are kept free of wildings by the Ashburton branch of Forest & Bird. Volunteers have removed thousands of wildings since the land was handed to DOC after tenure review in 2007. Seed sources on DOC land have been removed, but neighbouring properties continue to be a source of wilding conifers and silver birch. Photo: Mary Ralston
Lone pine, Lammermore Range, Central Otago. Photo: Keith Briden
Forest & Bird
The face of South Sawyer Glacier rises a dramatic 300 metres above sea level.
With ocean-bound glaciers, towering peaks, and more wildlife than you can fit on a bucket list, Southeast Alaska is a land lost in time. Words and photos by Lauren Buchholz. Imagine stepping back 10,000 years ago. In the northern reaches of modern-day Iraq, wheat and barley are cultivated for the first time. The last of the sabre-toothed cats go extinct. In New Zealand, the Southern Alps are completely under ice, and rising seas are sweeping across the once-connected landmass to create the North, South, and Stewart Islands. Half a world away, a stretch of coastline north of what is now British Columbia makes its first appearance from beneath an ice sheet that has dominated the landscape for 2.6 million years. One hundred centuries later, this new-born coastline greets me as I step off a plane and board a small expedition ship in the seaside town of Sitka. With a population of 8900, Sitka is the largest city in Southeast Alaska, a panhandle extending from the Canadian border in the south to the impenetrable St Elias Mountains in the north. Roughly two-thirds the size of New Zealand’s South Island, Southeast – as it’s known locally – is a primeval region of misty fjords, rugged mountain ranges, and glaciers that continue to give birth to new land. The best way to see Southeast is by water – specifically along the Inside Passage. The passage navigates a labyrinthine route between the mainland and some 1000 islands, all remnants of the retreating Ice Age. Much of Alaska’s famous wildlife can be found here: black and coastal brown bears, wolves, moose, mountain goats, and an enormous variety of birds – including thousands of bald
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eagles. In the waters of the Inside Passage itself, humpback whales, orcas, porpoises, harbour seals, sea otters, and Steller sea lions feast on an abundance of plankton, fishes, and in some cases each other. I’ll be keeping my wildlife bucket list handy for my journey. It’s raining lightly when we lift anchor and depart, and the slopes of Mt Edgecumbe – Southeast’s only volcano and a defining feature of the Sitka skyline – are hidden from view. Southeast is home to the world’s largest temperate rainforest, and for plants, wildlife, and humans alike getting wet is a part of life. As one of the local guides jokes, the peak serves as a weather barometer: when it’s visible it’s going to rain, and when it’s not visible it’s already raining. We spend the first four days watching humpback whales bubble-net (surface) feed as our vessel hugs the northern boundary of Southeast Alaska. The clouds follow our journey, cloaking 4671m Mount Fairweather and the southernmost range of the St Elias Mountains. The masses of snow and ice accumulating on the slopes of these coastal peaks feed the tidewater glaciers that make up nearby Glacier Bay National Park. Our vessel cruises up and down the long arm of the bay, tracing the route of channels of ice that have revealed the landscape around us only within the last 150 years. As we head south, we snake up and down some of the canals and fjords of Southeast’s 30,000km of coastline. A pod of orcas accompanies us one sunset, dozens of the
marine predators swimming and breaching on both sides of our vessel. We watch building-sized chunks of electric blue ice calve off South Sawyer Glacier without perturbing the dozens of harbour seals resting on nearby icebergs. A rare string of sunny days dries the mosses carpeting Southeast’s coniferous forests, while a deluge of rain the following week sends hundreds of new cascades down the sheer cliffs of Misty Fjords National Monument. Everywhere is the story of water and how it has shaped this land. There is another force that has dramatically impacted Southeast Alaska: us. Step back 11,000 years, as Jericho is rising along the West Bank, and along the icy shores of the Inside Passage the first human migrants are establishing a home. Homo sapiens have lived here ever since, enduring the retreat of the Ice Age, rising sea levels, and changing temperatures alongside the wildlife and ecosystems of this landscape. Today, more than 90% of Southeast is managed by the United States federal government, and a century-old tension between ecological preservation and resource use, extraction from mining, timber, and commercial fishing continues to this day. As my plane lifts off over the glacier-covered mountains, I wonder about Southeast’s fate. The glaciers are retreating here as well as worldwide. Intentionally or not, we have moved in to take their place as powerful shapers of our planet’s wilderness. What will our legacy be? The more people who know the value of places like the Inside Passage, the higher my hopes that it will be a positive one.
South Marble Island in Glacier Bay National Park is a haven for wildlife. The wingspan of an adult bald eagle can reach 2.4m.
Southeast Alaska, sometimes referred to as the Alaska Panhandle
Getting there Directions:
Alaska Airlines offers daily flights to Sitka, Juneau, and Ketchikan from Los Angeles and San Francisco, California, as well as Vancouver, British Columbia. Keep in mind that all flights to Southeast Alaska involve a transfer through Seattle, Washington.
There are multiple expedition-style cruises that operate along the Inside Passage. Check out Adventure Life’s roundup of the top 10 here: https://www.adventure-life. com/alaska. You can travel through the Passage more cheaply – but without any stops between ports – on the Alaska State Ferries system: https://www.dot.state. ak.us/amhs/.
A male and two female orcas cruise along the Lynn Canal.
A bachelor group of Steller sea lions rest between feedings.
More Explore your options for visiting Southeast information: on the Alaska Tourism site: http://www. alaskasinsidepassage.com. If you’re keen to learn more about conservation in the region, check out the Alaska Wilderness League: http://www.alaskawild.org/places-weprotect/tongass-national-forest/. Forest & Bird
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A passion for the ocean Helen Ward spoke to face-to-face fundraiser Brady Hotham about his interest in making New Zealand a better place for future generations. The ocean has always framed Brady Hotham’s world. Born and bred in Papamoa, just down the road from Mount Maunganui, Brady now champions the environment as a faceto-face fundraiser for Forest & Bird in his own ocean backyard. Brady’s connection to Forest & Bird began as a member of our Kiwi Conservation Club for younger conservationists, so he knows about our organisation and its proud independent advocacy for nature. While Brady loves the ocean today, he remembers being terrified of the water until he was 15 years old. In high school, he went out of his way to conquer his fear of the sea, completing a marine studies course and gaining scuba diving qualifications. “I’m grateful to my teacher Hamish Lacey for instilling in me a passion for the ocean that I now hold so close,” he says. Brady is now studying towards
a Diploma of Marine Studies at Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology in Tauranga. After his studies, Brady hopes to work with ocean animals, hopefully sharks. “I’m learning how the ocean affects everything,” says Brady. Brady’s biggest fears for the marine environment are the damage caused by plastics, over-fishing, and the warming of our seas from climate change. He loves his role as a face-to-face fundraiser, working with people and meeting interesting characters. “I would encourage any young readers to really get involved in conservation – younger generations hold the key to our future.” Forest & Bird’s face-to-face fundraisers help care for our environment. They encourage people to become Nature’s Future supporters with a regular monthly gift towards Forest & Bird’s conservation work. To find out more please call Helen Ward on 0800 200 064 or email email@example.com.
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retirement Michael Greenwood was a true conservation hero. After retiring in 1980, he gave five hours a day, five days a week, over 30 years, looking after Keeble’s Bush, near Palmerston North. That’s an incredible 36,000+ person hours. How would New Zealand’s native forests survive without the kind of dedication demonstrated by Michael? Keeble’s Bush is today considered to be the largest, most diverse, and best kept example of lowland bush remnant in Manawatū. Most lowland forest in New Zealand disappeared long ago, except for tiny pockets that are vulnerable to degradation from weeds, pests, and human impact. Keith Young, who is the Forest & Bird representative on the trust, calls it “one man’s retirement” when he is talking about Michael’s contribution. There is even an area in the reserve that is called Greenwood’s plantings. Keith remembers Michael, aged about 90 years,
Michael at work in Keeble’s Bush. Photo: Jill Rapson
climbing a tree holding a box saw ready to do a spot of pruning. He says Michael worked five days a week restoring Keeble’s Bush over 30 years. Forest & Bird chief executive Kevin Hague met Michael for the first time on his 97th birthday and paid tribute to his contribution to nature, saying: “It was an incredible privilege to spend time with Michael, but, more than anything, I wish I’d had the chance to meet him sooner. “I am envious of those who have had the chance to learn from Michael and who have been inspired by his passion and his ingenuity. Keeble’s Bush is not just one man’s retirement, it is his legacy to the whole of New Zealand.” Michael, who died in August, aged 97, also donated $40,000 over the last 15 years of his life to Forest & Bird to help fund our conservation work.
Anthea McClelland, chair of Forest & Bird’s Manwatū branch, pays tribute to Michael Greenwood. Roger Michael Greenwood, known as Michael, was a Life Member of Forest & Bird. He was one of the foundation members of the Manawatū Branch when it was created in November 1957 and served on the committee for more than 20 years. Michael was born in 1920 in New Plymouth and educated in Whanganui and Canterbury. After university, in 1943, he joined the Plant Chemistry Division of DSIR, where he worked until he retired in 1980. His work centred on isolating Rhizobium bacterial strains to find their ability to nodulate their specific legume hosts. The famous strain NZ 2037 was one of his strains, and has been used widely for inoculating white clover. Seed coated with Rhizobium provides young clover plants with a kick-start and ability to fix nitrogen. This was an important development and part of the reason our pastures are considered so successful internationally. 52
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Michael was a tireless advocate for protecting native forests and bush remnants. In 1984, he was involved with the “Save the Odlins Block Committee”, which, through urgent negotiation, saved a 2000ha area of native bush at Tokomaru from being logged that has now been returned to the Tararura Forest Park. He has also contributed to understanding and protecting most other remnants in the Manawatū through sharing his knowledge of New Zealand’s flora and vegetation. Michael was awarded the prestigious Loder Cup in 1993, New Zealand’s premier conservation award. Michael was probably New Zealand’s foremost restoration ecologist, as well as being an inspired scientist, an active and effective conservationist, and a true gentleman and friend. He will be greatly missed. *To see Anthea’s full tribute, go to www.forestandbird.org.nz.
Back to black
Check out this rare black fantail mum and chicks photographed by Alistair Beeby near his Geraldine home. Our friendly pair of fantails, a sooty black female and a pied male, kindly built their nest near my home office window, and I quickly built up the confidence with my camera out the window to record their progress in rearing a family. From the laying of three eggs to the first thatching and finally leaving the nest took 14 days, during which time both male and female worked continuously bringing food for their young. During the last three days in the nest, which was getting rather crowded by then, the testing of the wings occurred frequently, and on day 14 the three went into the wild unknown in a matter of a few minutes. The one that appeared the strongest went off with the male, and the other two with the female. The two parents
were back after about two weeks and had another hatching of three, which was also successful, but their third attempt early January failed.
Fantail facts Alistair’s photos provoked much discussion among members of Forest & Bird’s South Canterbury branch. Black fantails are very rare in the North Island and comprise less than 5% of individuals in the South Island, according to the most recent study found by the branch. Plumage colour is not related to sex, and it does not change with age.
Black female fantail feeding chicks day 4.
The first chick hatched on day 1. All photos: Alistair Beeby
50 years ago
Three chicks in the nest, feathers forming day 7.
Mum with chicks growing rapidly day 11.
Giant Kauris Saved from Destruction Recently two giant kauri trees and a number of smaller trees at Warkworth were threatened with destruction. The Kauri and Native Bushmen’s Association organised a campaign to raise funds to buy the land on which the trees stood, at a price of about $5,600. The Auckland Branch of the Society brought the subject to the notice of the Executive and the Society donated $100 to the fund. The Auckland Branch contributed a further $23.60 to the fund. In a letter of thanks from the secretary of the Bushmen’s Association we are informed that the purchase has been completed and the property is to be handed over to the Warkworth Town Council to administer. Forest & Bird, November 1967
Forest & Bird
Looking forward to 2018 Forest & Bird is proud to be New Zealand's oldest independent conservation organisation. We celebrate our 95th year in 2018 and we are looking forward to focusing on nature restoration: returning our rivers, climate, oceans, forests, and other natural taonga back to how they used to be with abundant wildlife and flourishing ecosystems. Please join us in welcoming Helen, Chris, Lynley, and Laura to the Forest & Bird team. They have a busy year ahead!
Nature advocate Helen Tickner Helen is our new group manager conservation advocacy, based in National Office. She has a strong management background and a passion for conservation. She joins us from Pukaha Mount Bruce National Wildlife Centre, where she was general manager. Helen says she’s proud to be working for Forest & Bird and looking forward to making a difference and ensuring that our nature is protected. Her favourite nature moment so far is seeing wild kōkako in the forest at Pukaha. Helen, who lives in the Wairarapa, likes to keep her outdoor spirit levels topped up with a daily walk with her dog. Her email is email@example.com.
Campaign communicator Lynley Hargreaves Lynley is our new communications officer, based in the South Island. Her professional background is in science communication, and she has a strong interest in New Zealand’s mountain history. Lynley has also been involved in many years of campaigning on environmental issues, particularly on her home patch – the West Coast of the South Island. She’s relishing the opportunity to work within an amazing organisation and looking forward to helping communicate the stories Forest & Bird has to tell. You can email Lynley at L.Hargreaves@forestandbird.org.nz. She’d love to hear from you.
Video whiz Laura Keown
Ace administrator Chris Nichols
Laura is a first generation immigrant from the USA, educated at University of Canterbury and University of Oregon, with experience working in government departments and training in journalism. Her belief in the philosophy “think global, act local” drew her to Forest & Bird, where she makes videos and other materials to support campaigns and remind people what they love about New Zealand’s natural world. Laura is a constant cyclist, a swimmer, a walker, and a volunteer radio host in Wellington. Her favourite bird is pīwakawaka. You can contact Laura at l.keown@ forestandbird.org.nz.
Chris has joined the National Office team as receptionist/ office administrator. She has lots of experience in a range of admin roles, including at Presbyterian Support. She loves working with people and says customer service is her best attribute! Chris is very interested in the environment and nature, and enjoys the outdoors. She especially likes softball, beaches and camping, live music, swimming and diving off the south coast, and spending time with her family. She looks forward to talking to you and says please don’t hesitate to get in contact via 0800 200 064 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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I wonder why...
A newly emerged North Island licen moth D. atronivea showing asymmetrical black markings.
New Zealand’s North Island lichen moth is one of only two insects in the world that has asymmetrical wing markings. Dr John Flux asks why this might be. “Unique” is an over-used word. But consider this perspective. We have one moth, the well-known North Island lichen moth/Declana atronivea that has asymmetrical black markings on a white background. This makes it one moth in 165,000 lepidoptera worldwide, or one of two in 909,000 insects with asymmetrical markings (the other is a mantid with one green and one red forewing). The South Island lichen moth/ Declana egregia (as seen on our $100 note) appears symmetrical. Freak individuals and semi-albinos are just developmental or genetic deviants and can be ignored here. Back in 1898, New Zealand entomologist G.V. Hudson noticed that D. atronivea was asymmetrical, with black markings “which are often slightly different on the opposite sides, in the same specimen”, but he regarded these as exceptions and twice painted them as symmetrical. No one else seems to mention it or appreciate the problem it causes. Perhaps we are too used to asymmetrical colour patterns in mammals. For example, giraffes and zebras have different patterns on each side, many species have minor differences, and whatever controls colour asymmetry is very fluid, as seen in domesticated mammals, fish such as koi carp, and reptiles such as the marine iguana. We look at the world through eyes with asymmetrically coloured irises. The problem is that many insects are disadvantaged in nature by having symmetrical markings. Tasty insects that don’t have poison to 56
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defend them will often hide using amazing camouflage to avoid their predators. But a cardinal rule in camouflage is to avoid symmetry. So, some insects, such as butterflies, shut their wings vertically, leaving an asymmetrical side view. Others fold one wing on top of the other, or angled like a tent, and several, such as the South African toad grasshopper, change shape. Surely, it would be simpler to adopt asymmetrical colouring, like our North Island lichen moth or that mantid? The cost of being symmetrical was neatly measured by Cuthill, Hilby, & Lloyd (2006). They painted a random pattern of black patches on brown cards and made some symmetrical by reversing one half. Then these artificial “moths” were made palatable by attaching a mealworm in the middle as a “body”, and equal numbers of each form were pinned on oak trees and left for wild birds to find. The disadvantage of being symmetrical was a mortality rate increase of up to 16%. They point out that insects using high contrast disruptive patterns such as black and white are at even higher risk, because predators are being invited to inspect and reject. But a 2006 study on a cuttlefish that can change colour and symmetry at will showed that it chose asymmetry to deflect predators and symmetry for concealment, suggesting the answer is not quite as simple as it seems. Darwin may provide one clue (1868). After a long discussion of the many colour forms in domestic
pigeons, he quotes an observer who “even found a difference in the bars on the right and left wings of the same bird in Faroe”. Clearly this was an extreme anomaly in birds. Perhaps the link is flight, where wing symmetry becomes extremely important. *Dr John Flux is a retired ecologist. **References for this article are available on request.
The zebra’s patterns vary on each side. Many mammals, fish, and reptiles have asymmetrical colour patterns.
The navy uses such asymmetrical disruptive patterns to conceal which way a ship is moving and its shape. Ship with disruptive coloration, Lerwick, Scotland.
Parting shot Nesting season was in full swing at Orokonui Ecosanctuary near my home town of Dunedin, and I was privileged to watch a female South Island tomtit carrying materials for her nest. As well as the moss seen here, she brought in tiny downy feathers, strips of bark, and other plant matter. Although she mostly paused on the same perches before scooting into her nest, this time she alighted on a flax leaf right next to me, and I had to back off quickly to get the shot. Surprisingly, the nest was on the ground, in the lee of a small Astelia fragrans. Paul Sorrell, Dunedin
THE COMPETITION The best entry to our Parting Shot nature photo competition will win a fabulous prize and the image will be published in the next issue of Forest & Bird magazine. Share your photos of native birds, trees, flowers, insects, lizards, marine mammals, fish and natural landscapes, such as rivers and lakes, and you could be in to win. To enter, post your image on the Forest & Bird New Zealand Nature Group page on Flickr.com. Alternatively, send your high res digital file (maximum 7mb) and brief details about your photo to Caroline Wood email@example.com.
THE PRIZE This issue’s Parting Shot winner will receive a Kiwi Camping Dune Beach Shelter and two Kiwi Camping Event Chairs (total prize value $319). Lightweight and compact, the Dune Shelter fits easily in the boot of the car for a trip to the beach or park. The fabric is SPF50 UV coated with a 1000mm aqua rating. Combined with two removable curtains, you’ll be well protected – rain or shine! A pair of event chairs are the perfect travelling companions for this shelter. Each comes complete with a built-in pillow, insulated drinks cooler and cup holder – you’ll feel relaxed the moment you sit down. The prize is courtesy of Kiwi Camping. To view the full range, see www.kiwicamping.co.nz.
we ARE climbing
Sarah Hueniken Johnston Canyon Banff National Park Photo: ex Bivouac staff member John Price johnpricephotography.ca
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Forest & Bird is New Zealand’s leading independent conservation organisation protecting and restoring our wildlife and wild places.
Published on Nov 24, 2017
Forest & Bird is New Zealand’s leading independent conservation organisation protecting and restoring our wildlife and wild places.