ISSUE 352 • MAY 2014 www.forestandbird.org.nz
Kōkako sings the blues PLUS
Wild about weta
Flight of the butterflies
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Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society of New Zealand Inc. Chief Executive: Höne McGregor Advocacy Manager: Kevin Hackwell Business Manager: Julie Watson Conservation Manager: Chris Todd Communications Manager: Marina Skinner Central Office: Level 1, 90 Ghuznee St, Wellington. PO Box 631, Wellington 6140. Tel: (04) 385-7374, Fax: (04) 385-7373 Email: email@example.com Web: www.forestandbird.org.nz Auckland Office: 34A Charlotte Street, Eden Tce, Auckland, PO Box 108 055, Symonds St, Auckland 1150. Tel: (09) 302-0203, Fax: (09) 303-4548 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Christchurch Office: Unit 4/Level 1, 245 St Asaph St, Christchurch. PO Box 2516, Christchurch 8140. Tel: (03) 940-5523 Email: email@example.com Forest & Bird is a registered charitable entity under the Charities Act 2005. Registration No. CC26943.
Tiaki Taiao www.forestandbird.org.nz
Contents 2 Editorial
36 Garden Bird Survey
Information and survey form
4 Letters 5 50 years ago 7 Conservation news
Otago plants, Ruataniwha irrigation, Auckland Unitary Plan, Denniston Plateau, RMA changes, kakapo, freshwater appeal, marine reserves, Garden Bird Survey, 1080 boost, Subantarctic islands, shark finning ban
Seabirds rule the roost
Amazing facts about …
In the field
Election campaign trail
Last flight to Mexico
Honda, Radicool, Pacific Perfumes
KCC co-ordinators, Rob Snoep, Steve McCready, Mere Valu, bat lovers
PO Box 631, Wellington. T (04) 801-2761 F (04) 385-7373 E firstname.lastname@example.org
A climate for change
Rivers running dry
EDITOR: Marina Skinner
• May 2014
Taupo dactylanthus, Hawke’s Bay gannet trip, Waitaki branch rekindled, North Taranaki wëtä hunting, Canterbury ecoblitz, Ark in the Park partnership, North Canterbury raffle result
48 Forest & Bird lodges 52 Book reviews
New Zealand Seaweeds: An illustrated guide, The Sixth Extinction: An unnatural history
53 Parting shot
ART DIRECTOR /DESIGNER:
Fledgling ruru by Chris Chadwick
Rob Di Leva, Dileva Design E email@example.com PREPRESS/PRINTING:
Printlink KEEP UP WITH NATURE
Karen Condon T 0275 420 338 E firstname.lastname@example.org Membership & Circulation T 0800 200 064 F (04) 385-7373 E email@example.com
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Election year wish list Tënä koutou Election year has rolled around again. The airways and newspapers are already filled with politicking over “vital” issues such as the colour of our flag. It would be refreshing if in coming months the major political parties surprised us with ambitious policies to protect and enhance New Zealand’s natural environment. Sadly, most politicians rate conservation issues as a low priority, which is disappointing given the importance of the natural environment to our economy, quality of life and national identity. So, for politicians reading this editorial, here are some policy suggestions for your platform: n Approve a Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary. Commercial and recreational fishing is almost non-existent and the potential for seabed mining is still a pipe-dream. A Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary will be a low-cost decision popular locally and internationally. n Complete the eradication of pests from the sub-Antarctic Auckland and Antipodes islands. We know how to do the job; it is more than a decade since the Department of Conservation eradicated Norway rats from Campbell Island. The cost is a one-off investment of about $20 million. After that, Stewart Island. n Make a commitment to establish a comprehensive network of marine protected areas. Individual marine reserves are important but the truly worthwhile goal is an ecologically effective network of protected areas around our coasts. A new Marine Reserve Act would be a good start. n Make a commitment to further extend pest control on the DOC estate over five to seven years. The recent decision to extend 1080 use across an extra 500,000 hectares over five years is a good start, but means only 12 per cent of DOC land is under pest control. Double this to 25 per cent and provide new funding, rather than a reallocation of existing resources. n Make a commitment to protect the New Zealand sea lion from extinction. The government needs to take all available action, including further restrictions on squid fishing, until the present decline in numbers is reversed. Allowing the sea lion to go extinct would be a disgrace for all New Zealanders. The same is true for the Mäui’s dolphin. Of course, there are many other conservation and environment initiatives that should happen, effective action on climate change being one of the most important. Over coming months Forest & Bird will promote policies and actions necessary to protect our natural environment. Nature doesn’t get a vote; you do. Let’s hope our politicians are listening. Noho ora mai ra, nä
Andrew Cutler Forest & Bird President
The 2014 Annual General Meeting and Council meeting will be on 28-29 June at the Comfort Hotel, 213 Cuba Street, Wellington. Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment Dr Jan Wright will give the Sanderson Memorial Address on the Saturday evening. More information at 04 385 7374 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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Registered Office at Level One, 90 Ghuznee Street, Wellington. PATRON: His Excellency
Lieutenant General the Rt Hon Sir Jerry Mateparae, GovernorGeneral of New Zealand NATIONAL PRESIDENT:
Andrew Cutler DEPUTY PRESIDENT:
Mark Hanger NATIONAL TREASURER:
Graham Bellamy CONSERVATION AMBASSADORS:
Sir Alan Mark, Gerry McSweeney, Craig Potton EXECUTIVE COUNCILLORS:
Brent Barrett, Lindsey Britton, Tony Dunlop, Craig Potton, Ines Stager, Barry Wards, John Wenham DISTINGUISHED LIFE MEMBERS:
Bill Ballantine, Stan Butcher, Ken Catt, Linda Conning, Audrey Eagle, Alan Edmonds, Gordon Ell, Stewart Gray, Philip Hart, Joan Leckie, Hon. Sandra Lee-Vercoe, Carole Long, Peter Maddison, Sir Alan Mark, Gerry McSweeney, Margaret Peace, Eugenie Sage, Guy Salmon, Lesley Shand, Gordon Stephenson, David Underwood
Forest & Bird is published quarterly by the Royal Forest & Bird Protection Society of New Zealand Inc. Forest & Bird is a member of the World Conservation Union (IUCN) and is the New Zealand partner of BirdLife International. • Opinions expressed by contributors in the magazine are not necessarily those of Forest & Bird.
Andrew Cutler, left, and Geoff Harrow (who rediscovered Hutton’s shearwaters) at Kaikōura in April.
Forest & Bird AGM
Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society of New Zealand Inc. (Founded 1923)
Forest & Bird is printed on elemental chlorine-free paper made from FSC® certified wood fibre and pulp sourced from responsibly managed forests. Registered at PO Headquarters, Wellington, as a magazine. ISSN 0015-7384. Copyright. All rights reserved.
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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 of the next edition will win a copy of The Essential Audrey Eagle: Botanical art of New Zealand by Audrey Eagle and Patrick Brownsey (Te Papa Press, $49.99). Please send letters to Editor, Forest & Bird magazine, PO Box 631, Wellington 6140, or e-mail email@example.com by June 30.
Links with the past I refer to your 50 years ago column in February’s Forest & Bird. Mr J Paterson (Jimmy, a dour Scot from near Inverness) was my grandfather and lived close to Mt Taranaki. My grandparents’ house was the only one in which I recall seeing Forest & Bird magazines in my youth in the early 60s. They left a lasting impression. We were fascinated by my grandfather’s stories, including those of the beautiful native birds that had vanished from the area, as reported, by 1925. However, he never suspected that the alien predators (rats, possums, stoats etc) were the real culprits for the birds’ disappearance. Instead he blamed bush clearance, chemicals and herbicides, particularly DDT. It seems that it wasn’t until the late 1970s that we became aware of the massive problems our wildlife have with the alien predators. The vermin had a 100-year start on us. Still appreciate your excellent magazines. Thanks. Spencer Drinkwater, Warkworth This letter is the winner of Bringing Back the Birdsong by Wade and Jan Doak.
A banded rail among mangroves. Photo: davidhallet.co.nz
Mangrove debate To balance the mangrove debate (November Forest & Bird), we offer the experience of Waikaraka Estuary Managers (WEM), the first estuary care group established in Tauranga Harbour because of concerns over the proliferation of mangroves. WEM obtained the best possible advice from local bodies and scientific institutions, and Piriräkau hapü commissioned a report from Wildlands. This became the guide for restoring estuary margins. Consent was obtained for the removal of some mangroves, which has enabled open water to again feature in the estuary. Yearly monitoring of epifauna and birdlife has been undertaken. In 2013 nearly 130 live shells and burrows were found at sites that had been cleared of mangroves. In the two years before this no epifauna had been recorded from these sites. Life is returning to what had been an area stifled by mangroves. Godwits and pied stilts now feed on these same areas, and oioi (jointed wire rush) has increased at the margins. Mangroves are still present but they are contained and are only part of the diverse vegetation of the estuary.
A rat in a kererū nest. Photo: Ngā Manu Images
Mary Foster, Waikaraka Estuary Managers
The editor replies: It’s wonderful to hear of links with Forest & Bird through the generations in your family. It’s probably fair to say that your grandfather was partly right about the reasons for the decline in birdlife, particularly bush clearance. But it wasn’t until rats overran Big South Cape Island (off Stewart Island/Rakiura) in 1964 and wiped from the face of the Earth Stead’s bush wren, a subspecies of snipe and the greater short-tailed bat that scientists understood the brutal impact of introduced predators.
In the field writer Ann Graeme replies: Every harbour habitat – mangroves, mudflats or sand flats – has different characteristics and supports different species. Destroying one habitat to try and create another has resulted in degraded ecosystems. This is shown by recent monitoring at all the sites where mangroves have been removed. Individual species may benefit but a tiny gain of habitat for godwits, for instance, has been a big loss for the threatened banded rails.
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A sustainable West Coast As a relatively new West Coaster living in Westport and a Forest & Bird member, I viewed the Denniston Plateau protest from two points of view. I have come to love the Westport Coasters and hear their views. I am also a DOC volunteer so see many of the beautiful areas in which we live. However, my plea is that if a protest such as Denniston is to be held in a place like Westport where many people’s lives have revolved around coal for generations, a cautious approach is necessary. It is important to make a stand for what we hold dear but often one-issue protests cause fear and that creates deep resentment. Forest & Bird would be wise to use a two-pronged attack: one for the issue, the other a viable and researched alternative for employment and life in Westport. Len Newman, Westport Forest & Bird Top of the South Field Officer Debs Martin replies: Thank you for your rightful concern about ensuring protection of our biodiversity while respecting communities. Forest & Bird’s mandate is to use our best efforts to ensure the protection of New Zealand’s indigenous flora, fauna and natural features. Our South Island gathering in Hokitika late last year highlighted the importance of ensuring sustainable development for the West Coast that respected and protected important parts of its natural environment. We will continue to ask that appropriate agencies – councils, governments, and communities – engage in a conversation about a more sustainable future for the West Coast. The cycle of boom and bust for coal mining has demanded an environmental price and a community and economic price. It’s important for communities to engage proactively in alternatives. Forest & Bird is keen to be a part of that conversation.
WIN A BOOK Forest & Bird is giving away three copies of Raoul and the Kermadecs: New Zealand’s Northernmost Islands by Steve Gentry (Steele Roberts Aotearoa, $55). To enter the draw, email your entry to firstname.lastname@example.org. nz Please put Raoul in the subject line and include your name and address in the email. Or put your name and address on the back of an envelope and post to Raoul draw, Forest & Bird, PO Box 631, Wellington 6140. Entries close on July 4. The winners of Rivers in the February edition of Forest & Bird are Chris Livesey (Wellington), Ian Pogson (Täkaka) and Myrna Carson (Öamaru). The winners of the native birds of New Zealand poster are Hendrikje Buss (Christchurch), Anna Deverall (Waikanae) and Ms N O’Neill (Thames). Your prizes will be posted.
Look out for SI kökako It’s great to see the South Island kökako back on the radar. Thoughts turn to conservation options of remnant populations and just how do you monitor cryptic species? The best sightings of the “grey ghost” are all chance encounters by members of the public. If you believe you may have seen this bird and especially if you saw its wattles, please submit a report at www.nzbirdsonline.org.nz Alec Milne, Onekaka, Golden Bay South Island kōkako. Photo: Te Papa Tongarewa
50 years ago
Our National Parks in Danger Stated plainly and briefly, the position is that if the Deerstalkers’ Association’s representations are successful, deer will be removed from the Noxious Animals List of the Wildlife Act, and the National Parks Act will be amended so as to legalise deer in the national parks. During the past twelve months or so most of our readers will have read or heard hysterical outbursts against the Government’s firm and sensible policy on noxious animals in our great national parks and on steep mountain watersheds, outbursts emanating from those whose representations, if successful, would corrupt the present National Parks Act, rendering it impotent, so that noxious animals would be able to go on ravishing the virgin charm of the national parks through all the years ahead, until finally the parks became depressing, eroded, and withered caricatures of what they once were, grim testimony to the unwisdom of those who sought to legalise the presence of deer in them. Forest & Bird, May 1964
Forest & Bird
letters Driven to destruction
Forest & Bird’s Mäori links
I recall the landmark article, “Consumerism: Driving to the end of the world”, by Anne and Keith Buchanan, in the May 1989 edition of Forest & Bird. It quotes distinguished French ecologist and agronomist René Dumont’s warning: “The only chance for a more prolonged survival [of humanity] calls urgently for a total rejection of our civilisation of waste.” As Anne and Keith wrote: “The key factors in climate change – destruction of rain forests, CFCs, and above all our consumption of fossil fuels, are all manifestations of this ‘civilisation of waste’, of an economic system based on very high material consumption. And the symbol of this consumer society is the private car.” Dumont noted that Luc Gagnon and Harvey Mead estimated that the petrol used by cars, plus the energy used to construct and maintain them, and to construct and maintain roads, and which must be used because of the dispersed settlement pattern resulting from the use of cars, mean that the private car accounts for half the energy consumption of developed nations. Clearly Kiwis have learnt little about sustainable behaviour in the past 25 years. The government’s Roads of National Significance programme and the ever-increasing sales and use of motor vehicles are two powerful symptoms of our lemming-like suicidal folly. When will we ever learn?
I think it’s really fantastic when I see Forest & Bird working together with iwi – with such shared values, this is definitely the way forward, I believe. I have a suggestion then: why not reflect this in the organisation’s name/image? I would love to see this happen as a sign of Forest & Bird’s commitment to working in partnership with tangata whenua. Well done on all the great work you continue to do and on your bold visions for the future. Emily Hunter, Kererü, Hawke’s Bay The editor replies: Forest & Bird has had a te reo Mäori name for several years: Tiaki Taiao. It’s not in our logo but you’ll see it at the top of the contents page of this magazine. We are looking at other ways to link Mäori values with Forest & Bird.
Tell us what you think Do you think Forest & Bird should strengthen its connection with Mäori? What changes would you like to see? Send your feedback (up to 200 words) to Editor, Forest & Bird magazine, PO Box 631, Wellington 6140, or e-mail email@example.com
J Chris Horne, Wellington
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Native short tussock and ploughed land in the background. Photo: Anne Steven
Fight for Otago’s native plants Forest & Bird hopes that its recent Environment Court experience in Queenstown will have a positive impact for the district’s native vegetation. When Forest & Bird became aware in February that an important area of native vegetation next to the Clutha River was being cultivated to make way for irrigated farming, it immediately contacted the Queenstown-Lakes District Council and urged the council to act. The site had been designated as a Recommended Area for Protection in the Department of Conservation Protected Natural Areas Programme survey. It contained threatened and at risk plant species, and supported continuous native cover across a connected sequence of glacial outwash terraces of different ages, linked to non-glacial river terraces on adjacent properties. The diverse sequence and size of these connected habitats was unique for the Upper Clutha Basin, which has undergone extensive land use change. Clearance of indigenous vegetation requires resource consent under the District Plan. Unfortunately, the council does not employ any staff with ecological expertise, and the planning staff sent to check whether a breach of the plan was occurring did not realise that the tussock and cushion vegetation they were looking at was indigenous vegetation. By the time it became apparent that the council did not intend to stop the clearance, the vast majority of
the native vegetation had been cleared. Forest & Bird secured an interim enforcement order in early March, which prevented any further clearance, over-sowing, topdressing or irrigation of the site. This order was then challenged by the landowner, who called evidence that the cleared vegetation was not able to be remediated. The court agreed with Forest & Bird that the disturbed areas of the property had likely contained indigenous vegetation, and that the undisturbed areas retained indigenous vegetation. But it agreed with the landowner that the disturbed areas could not be returned to their former state. After securing an undertaking from the landowner not to clear the undisturbed areas without resource consent, the court cancelled the interim order. Staff and branch members involved in the court hearing were extremely disappointed that the court did not agree with Forest & Bird that the vegetation could be remediated but there have already been positive repercussions from the court case. When another instance of native vegetation clearance occurred in April on a different site, the council immediately sent an ecologist to investigate. This suggests the council is committed to enforcing the District Plan’s indigenous vegetation clearance rules – now that it knows what to look for. n Sally Gepp Forest & Bird
Hope high for Ruataniwha Forest & Bird in April welcomed in principle the Board of Inquiry’s draft decision on the Hawke’s Bay Ruataniwha irrigation scheme. The board was appointed to decide on resource consents for the Ruataniwha dam and irrigation scheme, and to consider a Tukituki catchment-specific plan change to the Hawke’s Bay Regional Plan. Forest & Bird was heavily involved in the board hearing in Hawke’s Bay, through evidence from renowned academic and scientist Dr Mike Joy on water quality and native fish passage concerns, representations by branch members including Vaughan Cooper and Dan Elderkamp, and legal submissions and witness cross-examination by Forest & Bird solicitor Sally Gepp. Although the decision was to grant consent, conditions imposed on the irrigation scheme mean that if the scheme proceeds, its effects on water quality will be significantly moderated. The dam’s backers and the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council were seeking a “single nutrient limitation” approach that would control the amount of phosphorus getting into rivers but allow nitrogen to approach toxic limits. Phosphorous and nitrogen run-off increases markedly with intensification of farming through irrigation. Forest & Bird and other environmental groups strenuously opposed the “single nutrient limitation” approach, arguing that both nitrogen and phosphorous must be controlled to
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avoid excess algal growth. Dr Joy’s evidence was that algal growth caused by excess nutrients is undoubtedly one of the major threats to ecosystem health in New Zealand freshwaters. The board resoundingly rejected the single nutrient limitation approach, and imposed a nitrogen limit both in Plan Change 6, and as a condition that the irrigation scheme must meet. The single nutrient limitation approach had been viewed by its backers as a template that could be rolled out around the country, so its rejection by the board has wider implications than just in the Tukituki catchment. Forest & Bird’s victory is tempered by the consideration that if the dam does proceed, almost 200 hectares of significant native habitat will be inundated by the reservoir. Wetlands, braided river habitat, important fernbird and long-tail bat habitat will be lost. Native fish passage will also be blocked, and the board found that this significant adverse effect could not be mitigated. The board approved an Integrated Mitigation and Offset package – which was significantly strengthened in response to concerns raised through the hearings process – to address those effects. There are other hurdles that the dam still needs to overcome, though, with the recent withdrawal of major investor Trustpower, and Department of Conservation approval needed to flood part of the Ruahine Forest Park – renowned for its very high conservation values. The council is publicly consulting on whether the dam should proceed (submissions are due on June 3), and will make a decision by September 30. Forest & Bird is grateful for the significant contributions made throughout the process by the Hawke’s Bay branches and their members.
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Makaroro Gorge – site of the proposed dam and reservoir. The Makaroro River flows into the Tukituki River.
Auckland’s Pollen Island. Photo: Kent Xie
Single plan for Auckland At the end of February Forest & Bird lodged its submission on the Proposed Auckland Unitary Plan. Once it’s finalised, the unitary plan will be the most important resource management document for Auckland region. It replaces 13 different regional and district plans, and brings together the overarching framework for resource management in the region (the ‘regional policy statement’), with the objectives, policies and rules that will implement that framework. Forest & Bird’s key concern is to ensure that the plan provides appropriate protection for Auckland’s biodiversity. We’ve supported a lot of what’s in the proposed plan but we’re also keen to see some improvements. We’ve asked for better identification of and protection for terrestrial and marine significant ecological areas, including important bird areas. We’ve sought stronger protection for coastal trees and better management of mangrove removal. We’ve supported the existing protections for wetlands, streams and lakes but asked for better management of activities that can affect water quality. Forest & Bird has supported the proposed phase-out of stock in waterways and asked that it be extended to
protect more of Auckland’s streams and rivers. We’ve supported the plan’s focus on urban growth within city limits for the benefit of biodiversity. We’ve supported the climate change provisions and asked for greater restrictions on development within the coastal inundation zone. We’ve submitted on the landscape and natural character provisions, asking that there be greater protections for regionally significant landscapes. The government has set up an alternative to the usual RMA process for progressing the Auckland Unitary Plan. Under the new unitary plan process, we’ll be making our case to a ministerially appointed hearings panel. There are only very limited options for appeal to the courts if we disagree with the outcome of the hearings so it’s even more important than normal that we make a good case for biodiversity in the first instance. Hearings are expected to be held in 2015 and 2016. The next step for Forest & Bird is to consider all the other submissions that were made on the plan, and respond to them if necessary. n Erika Toleman
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Coal price saves Denniston for now Since the Environment Court decision last year in favour of Bathurst Resources’ open-cast coal mine, Forest & Bird members have been bracing for the day the bulldozers started trundling across the unique plants, rock forms and the animals of the Denniston Plateau. First the company said mining would start before Christmas. Then early January. Then February. In late February Bathurst admitted the price of coking coal was so low the mine wasn’t economic and that it was on indefinite hold. Forest & Bird had warned about this from the beginning – that the boom and bust nature of the mining sector meant the planned mine was no panacea for the West Coast’s unemployment problems. Bathurst says it won’t start blasting the pit until the coking coal price reaches US$140 a tonne. At one stage in April, the spot price was as low as US$112 a tonne. But the company says it wants to start bulldozing roads, digging water treatment ponds on the plateau and removing some of the vegetation and sandstone pavements to access coal to test its markets to prepare for when the mine becomes economic. Forest & Bird Top of the South Field Officer Debs Martin says there is a real risk the price of coal may never rise and the company’s shareholders will pull the plug on the project during or after this work has been done. This would leaving the plateau permanently scarred and the West Coast without the economic benefits Bathurst promised for the region. “The Department of Conservation rates Denniston as one of the 50 most significant sites on the mainland. With
large expanses of the adjacent Stockton Plateau destroyed by mining, the Denniston Plateau really stands out,” says Debs. “It would be a tragedy if Bathurst was allowed to ruin the Denniston Plateau and everyone was to lose out.” Regardless of what happens, Forest & Bird will be working this year for what is left of the Stockton Plateau – and almost all of the Denniston Plateau (except the areas where Bathurst plans to mine, and the areas that have been protected as part of Bathurst’s consent ) – to be permanently protected by reserve status. Debs says Forest & Bird’s fight to protect the Denniston Plateau from Bathurst’s mine has been long and hard. It cost a lot of money and ended with a situation that was far less than ideal: the mine obtaining consent. “While the overall outcome was not what we hoped for, there have been some important gains from the process. There is now the permanently protected area on the plateau. Also, Bathurst has to carry out predator control over thousands more hectares than it had originally proposed. “Its conditions of consent have been strengthened in other ways, too, so the company will have to do far more to try to mitigate the damage its mine would do. These include propagating rare plants and catching and moving some animals away before mining starts.” Debs says the legacy of Forest & Bird’s Denniston campaign is likely to be that future mine proposals will be better scrutinised for their conservation impacts. And if they are given consent, the terms are likely to be stronger. n Jay Harkness
Coking coal prices 350 US dollars
Bathurst Resources wants to start removing Denniston Plateau’s sandstone pavements. Photo: Simon East 12
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The boom and bust nature of the coal industry stems from the constant fluctuations in the price of its products. Credit: Tex Report, quarterly averaged coking coal contract prices, Macquarie Research
RMA changes at odds with survey The results of the government’s 2012/2013 Survey of Local Authorities – which collates resource management decision and process statistics across the country – were released in April, and continue to show extremely low numbers of resource consents publicly notified and that almost all consents were granted. Highlights include: n 95 per cent of resource consent applications were processed “non-notified”, without public consultation. n 97 per cent of resource consents were processed on time. n Just 0.27 per cent of applications were declined – this is less than half the number declined in the five previous years. n Of 34,000 consents processed to a decision, 239 resource consent decisions were appealed (down by one third on 2011/2012 figures). Councils reported that they were under considerable pressure to meet consenting deadlines and keep costs down without compromising the quality of decisions and allowing genuine stakeholder consultation. Four-fifths of councils reported that limited resources for monitoring and enforcement made it difficult to meet expectations for those processes. Limited resources – staff, timing and funding – were also given as an issue in planning processes. Alarmingly, the government’s response to the latest survey results is not a commitment to ensuring councils are adequately resourced for their planning and enforcement functions. Instead, Environment Minister Amy Adams is claiming that the results show the need for the second phase of proposed RMA reforms, and that the current planning framework’s “extensive consultation requirements” will be “a key area for reform”. Mrs Adams continues to assert that further changes to the RMA are needed because it is “[failing]... in providing an efficient planning system”. Major reforms – put on the back burner late last year when government support parties Mäori and United Future withdrew support – are now under way. The proposed changes would rewrite the Resource Management Act’s most important part in ways that further favour the interests of development over the environment and will up-end the law.
Sir Geoffrey Palmer believes changes to the RMA are linked to the drive towards agricultural intensification. Photo: Aalbert Rebergen Speaking most recently on Radio New Zealand’s Insight programme, the architect of the RMA, Sir Geoffrey Palmer, again criticised the proposed reforms as “not [being] supported by proper analysis. They are supported by sound bites and they are supported by anecdote but they are not supported by rigorous policy analysis of the sort one would expect for changes of this magnitude.” Instead, he suggests a direct link between the government’s policies on dairying and freshwater, and plans to weaken the RMA: “The announced aim is very clear and it is a commitment to increasing New Zealand’s agricultural outputs through irrigation and intensification of agriculture. And that seems to mean, at least as things presently stand, more dairy farming in more parts of New Zealand. The result of that, of course, is going to be disaster for water quality in terms of our lakes, rivers and streams. And so the changes to the RMA that are proposed clearly stem in my opinion from the aims that have been articulated in those ministry papers.”
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On the käkäpö rollercoaster Last summer was a difficult time to be a käkäpö parent. On Whenua Hou/Codfish Island, near Stewart Island, Department of Conservation rangers were disappointed with the high number of infertile eggs. Of the 15 eggs found, only five were viable. Prospects further deteriorated when a käkäpö parent crushed one of the healthy eggs. Senior ranger Jo Ledington came to the rescue and mended the egg with tape and glue. The repair job paid off with the arrival of Lisa One, hatched on February 28, the first käkäpö chick in three years. Lisa One was followed by Rakiura Two, Rakiura Three and Huhana Two. One chick, Huhana One, died shortly after hatching. In 2012 nine käkäpö were transferred to Hauturu o Toi/ Little Barrier Island in the Hauraki Gulf. It was believed that it could take up to 10 years before käkäpö would successfully raise their chicks there without support. But in February, a käkäpö nest was found with three eggs, of which two were fertile. One egg was removed for incubation and the other left in the nest for Heather to look after, which she hatched without human intervention. However, the health of the chick, Heather One,
deteriorated and it was transferred to Auckland Zoo, where it recovered. It also has a sister, Heather Two. The final tally for the summer was six healthy käkäpö chicks. After a rollercoaster season, the käkäpö population is now 128, up from 51 in 1995. The Käkäpö Recovery programme was set up in 1990 in a partnership between the Department of Conservation, New Zealand Aluminium Smelters (NZAS) and Forest & Bird. 2 n Phil Bilbrough
1 One kākāpō crushed its egg, which was mended with tape
and glue. The chick hatched successfully.
2 Two of the 2014 kākāpō chicks, Lisa One and Huhana Two.
Every drop counts Freshwater was the focus of Forest & Bird’s summer fundraising appeal. More than $80,000 was raised by you to protect and preserve New Zealand’s freshwater, and we cannot thank you enough for your support. Your contributions have helped us to fight for strict water quality standards in the Tukituki catchment in Hawke’s Bay. Forest & Bird played a significant role in opposing the massive Ruataniwha irrigation scheme, and the dam is now unlikely to be viable. This will protect the habitat for native fish, birds and other animals at the proposed dam site and downstream. In Canterbury, Forest & Bird continues to work on strategies to better manage rivers and streams from everincreasing demands for irrigation. We are able to make a difference, thanks to the generosity of supporters like you.
Australasian crested grebes feed, sleep and even nest on freshwater. Photo: davidhallett.co.nz Forest & Bird
Swimming against the tide Dr Bill Ballantine is a battler from way back. The marine biologist landed on New Zealand’s shores half a century ago from Britain, and ever since he’s been making a stand for better protection of our seas. In the 1960s and 70s, people thought he was mad, arguing for a no-take marine reserve at Goat Island, north of Auckland. He persisted with his battle to fully protect the five-kilometre stretch of coastline, and in 1975 New Zealand’s first marine reserve surfaced at Goat Island/Leigh. Locals predicted the death of the place. Now more than 300,000 people visit the marine reserve each year, bringing with them several million dollars. Fishers were incensed at losing access to fish in the 540-hectare zone. Now they champion the reserve. Looking back on New Zealand’s marine protection, Bill this year published a paper, “Fifty years on: Lessons from marine reserves in New Zealand and principles for a worldwide network”. Among the surprises for scientists studying marine reserves are the changes in animal behaviour. Where humans are no longer predators, fish lose their fear of us. And large fish and lobsters can be found in just a metre of water, when it was previously thought they lived in deep water. Forest & Bird Conservation Advocate Karen Baird says it’s no surprise that the numbers and size of fish and lobsters increase. The Goat Island seafloor that 40 years ago was bare except for encrusting algae and grazing sea urchins (kina) is now lush with seaweeds. Experiments show that as fish and lobsters become larger they eat small urchins. This is a trophic cascade, in which a top predator controls the abundance of grazers and, in turn, plant growth. Our existing marine knowledge is insufficient to make good predictions about what will happen in the life of a marine reserve. “This is likely to be even more so if we create very large marine reserves, such as a Kermadec ocean sanctuary,” says Karen. In 1975 New Zealand was a leader in marine reserves. As iconic sites were identified and communities got behind them, several marine reserves were established. Bill says the scientific benefits of marine reserves are well proven. Other key features are: n Reserves should be proactive rather than reactive, meaning we don’t wait for a problem to arise before protecting an area. n Reserves should be permanent and should be on top of any other marine zoning. Karen says the marine spatial planning process for the Hauraki Gulf will require marine reserves to complement other management methods. n Reserves are needed for effective management. Our existing knowledge of marine systems is incomplete, so reserves help to buffer against making mistakes. As technology expands, there are fewer “natural” refuges from human exploitation. Human numbers continue to increase and the intensity of exploitation is increasing. n Reserves allow a comparison between natural states and fisheries impacts to distinguish the local effects of climate 16
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change. “What better laboratory than a Kermadec ocean sanctuary to assess the impacts,” says Karen. n Reserves help us distinguish between generic and local direct human impacts on marine systems. Karen says the Hauraki Gulf is a case in point, where a complex interplay of human activities affects the marine environment. Marine reserves become control areas, and help separate out these complex issues. Bill is critical of fisheries managers. A large range of agencies take care of marine resources, focussing on fisheries, and some fisheries managers and scientists have opposed marine reserves. Fish populations are part of complex systems and certain to have intrinsic and unpredictable dynamics. Bill says improvements in stock assessment modes are doomed to fail. He argues we need basic buffer insurance – marine reserves – to cope with our activities. After a lifetime studying our seas, Bill concludes that the benefits of marine reserves for science, conservation and general management are so valuable that it is clearly sensible to develop a system of marine reserves. Big is better. Bill suggests that to conserve all marine biota, at least 20 per cent of all marine areas should be reserved, but for maximum benefit to fisheries the figure should rise to at least 30 per cent. Forty years ago New Zealand was a world leader in marine protection. With less than one per cent of our marine environment in marine reserves, we have fallen well behind other nations.
Marine reserves have tossed up surprises for scientists. Photo: Pete Humphris
Kermadec seas worth saving Forest & Bird – with Pew and WWF-NZ – is working towards a Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary. At 620,000 square kilometres, it would be the second-largest no-take marine reserve on the planet. Register your support at www.forestandbird.org. nz/KermadecsYourOceanSanctuary We will keep you up to date with what’s happening in the Kermadec region and give you an opportunity to help make a Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary a reality.
Tüï and pïwakawaka soar Eric Spurr identifies early trends in the nationwide Garden Bird Survey. After seven years, trends are emerging in the annual New Zealand Garden Bird Survey. The primary aim of the nationwide citizen science project is to monitor long-term directions in common garden bird populations. Perhaps the most encouraging trends are increases in counts of native tüï and fantails, or pïwakawaka. It is too soon to determine whether these increases are part of a longer-term trend or just part of normal fluctuations in numbers over time. Counts of other native species such as silvereyes (tauhou), bellbirds (korimako), kererü and grey warblers (riroriro) have not increased over the past seven years but have not declined either. Their numbers have fluctuated, presumably in response to factors such as weather, food supply, predation and disease. It is unclear why tüï and fantails have increased but not other native species. Counts of two introduced bird species – house sparrows and eastern rosellas – increased from 2007 to 2013, but counts of blackbirds and song thrushes declined. Counts of most other introduced species did not change significantly over the seven years. Seven years is not a long time compared with the 35 years that the Big Garden Bird Watch has been running in Britain. The results should be interpreted with caution and the 2014 counts could change observed trends. The survey is unable to identify the causes of any changes in bird numbers but can alert us to the need to investigate them, for instance, are they caused by a change in predator numbers, disease status, habitat condition or some other factor? Changes in bird populations that might cause concern include downward trends of native species such as tüï and bellbirds, and upward trends of introduced birds, such as mynas and eastern rosellas. Measuring changes in bird population trends nationally is an enormous task, which is why it helps to have as many New Zealanders as possible completing the survey.
This year’s survey runs from June 28 to July 6. Anybody who can identify birds in their gardens can participate. All you need to do is spend one hour counting birds in your garden sometime during the nine-day period. A survey form is on page 37, and full instructions and an online survey form are available on the garden bird survey website at http://gardenbirdsurvey.landcareresearch.co.nz
Garden Bird Survey trends t 2
NUMBER PER GARDEN
2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
5 0 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 0.0 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 4
2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
Graphs show trends in the number of birds counted per garden nationally (from regional averages weighted by the proportion of households in each region)
Numbers of tūī and fantails, or pīwakawaka, are becoming more common in our gardens. Photos: Luc Hoogenstein 18
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Eric Spurr is a retired scientist and organiser of the Garden Bird Survey.
1080 boost for mast year In late April scientists working for the Department of Conservation (DOC) were able to confirm what they had suspected – that there would be a major beech seeding or mast event this year. DOC announced in January that it was ramping up its aerial 1080 bait operations across the South Island, in anticipation of the explosion in predator numbers that follows a major mast year. That’s because when beech trees produce and drop large quantities of seed in autumn rat populations soar and remain high going into winter. This leads to a huge increase in the numbers of stoats, as the animals gorge themselves on the rats, which then give birth to more than the usual number of young. When the beech seed germinates in spring the rat numbers fall but the area will be teeming with stoats, which turn to eating native birds. DOC staff used rifles to shoot down beech branches at 23 sampling sites from north-west Nelson to Fiordland. Trees at virtually all the sites showed signs of heavy seeding, which normally only occurs every 10-20 years. DOC’s predator baiting will be aimed at protecting möhua (yellowheads), käkäriki, three kiwi species (Haast tokoeka, rowi and great spotted kiwi, or roroa), whio, kea, käkä, rock wrens, giant land snails and native bats. Previous experience is driving the effort – a beech masting event in 2000 wiped out all möhua in one of the birds’ last strongholds in the Marlborough Sounds.
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Nature lovers visit deep south More than 20 Forest & Bird members joined two Heritage Expeditions voyages to New Zealand’s Subantarctic islands in December. Heritage donated a portion of each of their fares to Forest & Bird, with a total tally of $9850, which will be spent on conservation advocacy. Heritage also donated a free berth, which sold for $4500 at Forest & Bird’s Wild Perspectives art auction in October. Forest & Bird Advocacy Manager Kevin Hackwell and Conservation Manager Chris Todd each joined one of the December voyages. For Kevin, it was an opportunity to see first hand the area he helped safeguard as Forest & Bird’s representative on the Subantarctic Marine Protection Planning Forum from 2008 to 2010. “It was a good feeling as we got close to Campbell Island to know that the majority of the territorial waters we were sailing through would be formally declared a no-take marine reserve within a few months of our visit. “These islands and the seas surrounding them are special places. The islands are relatively untouched and support a magical variety of birdlife and plants, many that are found only on the individual islands. It was a privilege to see these endemic species such as the Campbell island snipe as well as so many seabird species, New Zealand sea lions and penguins. “But the islands’ remoteness can mean they are out of sight and out of mind for many New Zealanders, and their wildlife needs our protection. For instance, the squid fishery around the Subantarctic Auckland Islands is having a serious impact on New Zealand sea lions. They are the world’s rarest sea lion, and they now number less than 10,000.” 1
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Heritage Expeditions founder Rodney Russ, led the second of the Subantarctic trips. They are among hundreds of expeditions Rodney has organised since he set up the company in 1985. “Rodney founded the company to show off the natural wonders in parts of the world not easy to get to,” says Chris Todd. “Rodney once worked for New Zealand’s Wildlife Service, helping to save käkäpö and the Chatham Islands black robin. By setting up an eco-tourism business and taking people to nature hotspots, including the Subantarctic islands, he’s created new generations of conservation advocates for these areas.” Chris spent Christmas Day at the Auckland Islands, 560 kilometres south of Bluff. Instead of opening presents and tucking into turkey, he and the other expeditioners left their ship to venture to the main island of the group. Biosecurity safeguards are critical to keeping the islands pristine. “We kitted up for the day, washed our gumboots in anti-bacterial solution, vacuumed out the pockets of our daypacks and coats, and checked velcro for stray seeds,” he says. They went ashore in zodiacs to the failed colony of Hardwicke, now just a little graveyard, a few bricks and stones, and the remains of a short road. “Beautiful little ground orchids, gentians, moss and ferns carpeted the ground under a canopy of flowering rätä that has grown back where once buildings stood,” Chris says. An inquisitive sea lion checked out the Zodiac, and Chris noticed the bellbirds attracted to the rätä sang with a distinctly different dialect to mainland bellbirds.
3 He spent Boxing Day on nearby Enderby Island. “After a briefing from Rodney, we took the Zodiacs in to the beach, which was populated by a large harem of sea lion females and their pups, surrounded by giant alpha males growling, lunging at and biting each other. An outer circle was made up of dateless and desperate younger males vying for a crack at the harem. As Rodney described it, it was a beach seething with sex and violence.” On a walk around the small island, Chris arrived at a dramatic cliff top from a field of yellow Bulbinella and pink Anisotome flowers. “Huge swells churned the bull kelp 60 metres below us and pairs of light-mantled sooty albatrosses used the updraft along the cliff edge to put on synchronised flying displays. Their courtship displays are aerial, in contrast to other albatrosses’, which are on the ground. “Their feathers are shades of grey, with the darkest charcoal reserved for the head and neck, making a striking contrast to the whites of their eyes. One had constructed a mud nest on a narrow ledge 10 metres below us. “The Auckland Island teal are a small, brown, flightless duck, whose existence was re-discovered only a few years ago. We watched a threesome quarrel and chase each other around the tussocks and in and out of the pond. A
4 sea lion suddenly reared up, growled and bared its dirty yellowed teeth at me. We were told to stand our ground if this happened as running results in being chased. It’s easier said than done.” Chris described an enchanted garden of low-growing wind and age-twisted rätä forest with an understorey of rhubarb-like Anisotome, Dracophyllum and moss. “Käkäriki, bellbirds and tomtits share the forest with yellow-eyed penguins and sea lions. Was the New Zealand mainland once like this?” heritage-expeditions.com Forest & Bird thanks Rodney Russ and the staff and crew of Heritage Expeditions for their generosity and longterm support. 1 Heritage Expeditions founder Rodney Russ. Photo: Katya
2 Pleurophyllum on Campbell Island. Photo: Chris Todd 3 Light mantled sooty albatrosses nesting. Photo:
4 Bulbinella. Photo: Craig McKenzie
Sharks finally get protection In January the ministers of primary industries and conservation finally said they would be making the killing, finning and dumping of shark bodies illegal. This came after a long and successful campaign, and was a great moment for the tens of thousands of people who signed the New Zealand Shark Alliance’s petition seeking the ban. There was a major fishhook in the news, though: the ban won’t apply to all species until 2016. The alliance is working to rectify that. Details of how the ban will be enforced have not been finalised, either. The alliance is asking that any fishing companies that want to sell shark fins be required to bring the whole body ashore, avoiding a scenario in which boats return with holds full of only fins after killing huge numbers of sharks.
Hammerhead shark. Photo: Terry Goss/Marine Photobank Forest & Bird
Limbo land We expect that kokako and other endangered native plants and animals have safe havens in public conservation land. But two-thirds of all conservation land is open for mines, monorails, highways and hydro dams. By Marina Skinner.
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he kökako was the poster bird for Pureora Forest in the 1970s. To conservationists, its melancholy call was a cry for its forest home, which was disappearing as fast as the foresters could mow it down. Pureora’s 1000-year-old tötara and other forest giants were felled, replaced by rows of uniformly trimmed radiata pines. “As far as I could see was wasteland – smashed tree stumps, some 8-10 feet in diameter, broken branches, churned earth,” Pureora campaigner Stephen King recalled in 1995. “Flocks of käkä were screeching in protest, and from the few remaining tötara still standing in that raped landcape the song of the kökako poured out like a great lament mourning the fate of the huia, mourning the desecration of their ancient home.” Conservationists, including Forest & Bird, saved Pureora’s remaining native forest, its kökako and other wildlife from the loggers. Today a new threat hangs over the forest: mining. Last August the government opened the Central Volcanic Zone in the North Island to tenders for gold and silver mining. The area includes Pureora Forest Park. On May 9 Energy and Resources Minister Simon Bridges announced he had not granted exploration permits for mining in the forest. Pureora is safe for now but the forest – and its wildlife – remains vulnerable to future threats from mining and oil and gas exploration. Forest & Bird Advocacy Manager Kevin Hackwell is surprised that such an important area would have been even considered available for mining. “We saved Pureora from logging to save the kökako and other species as well as the last of these great forests. One-third of the planet’s kökako population lives in Pureora. We have so few kökako left in New Zealand and it’s critical that the places where they are found, such as Pureora, are havens for them, not mining sites.” Because of its classification as a forest park, it is not considered worthy to be included in Schedule 4 of the Crown Minerals Act. Schedule 4 lists all conservation land that is safe from mining and it covers national parks and nature reserves. Pureora Forest Park is one of many areas of publicly owned conservation land that are poorly protected. About two-thirds of all public conservation land is at risk of exploitation. Forest parks, conservation parks, ecological areas, scenic reserves and other categories can be mined or developed for other purposes, including oil and gas extraction or hydro dams. At the bottom of the conservation protection heap is stewardship land, which in many cases has extremely high conservation value. When the Department of Conservation (DOC) was created in 1987, areas of state forest that had no particular commercial value were transferred to DOC. DOC was to be the steward for this land until it was assessed and judged suitable to become a reserve or a park, or to be culled from the conservation estate if its values were 1 The giant Pouākani tōtara, close to Pureora Forest, is almost
40 metres tall, has a trunk diameter of 3.6 metres and is about 1800 years old. Photo: Tom Lynch
Categories of public conservation land
Other conservation areas
Conservation parks Source: DOC
very low. This assessment has never happened for the vast majority of stewardship land. New Zealand has 2.8 million hectares of stewardship land. That’s nine per cent of our total land area and onethird of all public conservation land. Most of this land is in the South Island, including vast areas bordering Kahurangi, Nelson Lakes, Arthur’s Pass, Westland Tai Poutini and Mt Aspiring national parks and a large chunk of Te Wähipounamu – South West New Zealand World Heritage Area. In the North Island, significant stewardship areas include Waitötara Forest (near Whanganui National Park), large areas of inland Taranaki and south Waikato, Tongariro Forest (near Tongariro National Park), much of northern Urewera next to Te Urewera National Park and most of Great Barrier Island/ Aotea. “Stewardship land is a particularly easy target for developers,” says Forest & Bird Advocacy Manager Kevin Hackwell. “We saw this when Meridian Energy tried to build a massive dam on the Mökihinui River on the West Coast. The Mökihinui runs through stewardship land, though the area’s conservation values clearly indicate that it should be part of neighbouring Kahurangi National Park. “Denniston Plateau is another case of stewardship land that should have been reclassified years ago. It’s one of DOC’s 50 top sites for biodiversity protection on mainland New Zealand and because it is stewardship land it was open to mining.” Conservation Minister Dr Nick Smith said in 2013 when he granted Bathurst Resources access to mine Denniston: “It is general stewardship land, which is the lowest legal status of protection of land managed by the Department of Conservation.” Northland’s Russell Forest is an important home to some of the world’s last one per cent of kauri forest. The 7120-hectare forest has rare, nationally vulnerable kärearea (falcons), red-crowned käkäriki and unique kauri snails. Large parts of the forest, including its stewardship land, are being explored for lead, copper, silver, gold and zinc mining opportunities. Forest & Bird
2 High-profile stewardship land in the Snowdon Forest, near Lake Te Anau, is under threat from the monorail proposal on which the Conservation Minister is about to make a decision. If it goes ahead, it will see the destruction of 70 hectares of old-growth beech forest, habitat for the threatened longtailed bat and the endangered möhua (yellowhead). Iconic landscapes including the Remarkables and the stunning forests between Fox Glacier and Haast Pass are all stewardship land. Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment Dr Jan Wright last year released a report on stewardship land. “How is it that New Zealand’s second-largest category of conservation land can have such an ill-defined purpose?” she pondered. “Why has most stewardship land been left in a ‘holding pen’ for 25 years?” She recommended to the Minister of Conservation that DOC identify stewardship land of significant conservation value and reclassify it. Forest & Bird agrees. And this action is urgent because more development proposals are on the horizon. It’s in the interest of conservation and business for there to be clarity about the values and proper status of stewardship land. “We want it to be absolutely clear that some land is so precious that it must be fully protected,” says Kevin. “We do not want Forest & Bird, DOC or any other organisation wasting time and money fighting to protect conservation land that is clearly inappropriate for mines, monorails, highways or hydro dams.” Forest & Bird wants a halt to any development on stewardship land until DOC carries out a review. This 24
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would mean no more tenders for oil and gas exploration or mining on stewardship land. And it is important that all high-value conservation land – including Pureora – is permanently protected from mining and other exploitation. “Many areas with outstanding conservation values deserve absolute protection,” says Kevin. “If they are not in Schedule 4 of the Crown Minerals Act, they are open to mining. These wild places and the native plants and animals they sustain deserve better.”
PUREORA FOREST TAUPÖ • LAKE TAUPÖ
How you can help Forest & Bird is appealing for support to protect all New Zealand’s high-value public conservation land. You may have received a letter from Forest & Bird recently about the threat to our conservation land. Please give generously to help Forest & Bird fight for the protection of stewardship land. To read more and to make a donation, please visit www.forestandbird.org.nz/stewardshipappeal You can also phone 0800 200 064 to make a donation. With your help, we can fight for an urgent review of stewardship land and appeal for the “do not disturb” sign to be put up. The threat to our treasured conservation land is critical and immediate and your donation will help Forest & Bird make sure that it is preserved for all New Zealanders into the future.
Forest & Bird is calling for:
1 2 3
All high-value conservation land to be fully protected from mining and other exploitation. An urgent review of the 2.8 million hectares of stewardship land and action to classify it. A moratorium on mining and other development on stewardship land until it is assessed.
Lessons from the past A barefoot conservationist, Stephen King, led the charge to save what was left of Pureora’s forest giants in early 1978. Stephen and 11 other Native Forests Action Council protestors climbed into the treetops to stop them being felled. The protest lasted a week and the logging stopped. Forest & Bird also weighed in to save Pureora. President Tony Ellis said in a media release in January 1978: “The Society has been concerned at the rapid dwindling of the North Island rain forests. The Society regards Pureora Forest as one that must be protected.” In an indictment of the state Forest Service’s cavalier approach to logging native forests, he said: “In 1971 the Wildlife Service recommended that a large area be set aside as a reserve. Most of this area has disappeared and is now converted to pine trees.” Forest & Bird launched a Save the Kökako appeal to raise $30,000 for a study of Pureora kökako, and later hired a research scientist, Rod Hay. The government responded to the public support for Pureora’s native forest by calling a three-year moratorium on logging. The moratorium ended in December 1981 but logging never resumed, and a formal end was announced in 1982. 2 Pureora Forest … safe from logging but not from mining.
Photo: Craig Potton
3 Northland’s Russell Forest has rare native birds and
unique kauri snails. Large parts of the forest, including its stewardship land, are being explored for lead, copper, silver, gold and zinc mining. Photo: Kristi Henare
4 Treetop protesters against the clear felling of Pureora Forest
in 1978. Photo: Morice Peacock/Alexander Turnbull Library Forest & Bird
What’s special about Pureora n
n n n n n n
78,000-hectare Pureora Forest Park, west of Lake Taupö, is one of the North Island’s largest areas of podocarp (tötara, miro, rimu, mataï, kahikatea) forest. Rich rainforest where ancient trees abound, including 1000-year-old tötara. The largest tötara in New Zealand is nearby. Rare birds include kökako, käkäriki, kärearea (falcons), North Island käkä and whio (blue ducks). Other native animals include short-tailed and longtailed bats and Hochstetter’s frogs. Rare plants include dactylanthus (wood rose), endangered Turner’s köhühü and mistletoes. The forest is at the edge of the area destroyed by the great Taupö volcanic eruption 2000 years ago. The Timber Trail cycle track runs through Pureora. At the centre of the battle in the late 1970s and early 1980s to stop the logging of North Island native forest remnants.
Block offers add urgency The 2014 “block offer” was one of the biggest yet, putting up the rights to oil and gas exploration for 925,200 hectares of public conservation land and more than 39 million hectares of ocean. The mass tender was probably noticed by more people this year simply because Energy and Resources Minister Simon Bridges was forced to admit he had never heard of the South Island’s Victoria Forest Park. This was despite the minister having just signed off the block offer including the park. In 2010 the government backed down after 50,000 people marched up Auckland’s Queen Street to protest its plan to open prime conservation land (mainly national parks) to mining. There is little difference between a national park and a conservation park when considering the environmental impacts of a gold mine and its toxic tailings dam, or a fracking rig and its settling ponds. And many of the areas on offer border national parks. Forest & Bird is campaigning for greater protection for all conservation land from threats such as mining and oil and gas exploration and production.
Kökako today Twenty years ago Pureora Forest’s dawn chorus was a muted recital. At its most subdued, the voices of about 140 kökako were heard in the forest. Attacks by rats and possums on nesting females, eggs and chicks led to a shortage of females, with many males pairing up. Pureora Forest is one of the two most important populations of kökako in New Zealand, says kökako scientist Ian Flux. Along with kökako in Te Urewera National Park, Pureora kökako have maintained reasonably large populations – avoiding severe population bottlenecks, which may have reduced the genetic variation among most surviving kökako populations. In the mid-1990s the Department of Conservation started intensive pest control in Pureora Forest, and at the last count in 2012 the population had increased to over 240 pairs in four separate areas. “We would like to have seen all these populations improve a little quicker,” says Ian, who works for DOC’s Kökako Recovery Group. “One of our major focuses will be sustaining the management and increasing the areas managed for the relict populations.” Very intensive pest management is needed for kökako, with rodents and possums kept at very low levels. To help maintain genetic diversity, the scientists would like to connect another population of kökako at Mapara with the Pureora neighbours 15 kilometres away. The birds don’t generally fly more than 100 metres and prefer mature forests, though they will move through regenerating forest. Ian is uncertain about the outlook for kokako, which are estimated to number just 1280 pairs in total. “It’s a difficult time at the moment. I don’t think any of us understand how the recent cuts in conservation funding will pan out for kökako. We’re having to fight hard for funding of key kökako sites. “DOC is rightly focusing on ecosystem management, not species, but we have to be careful that species recovery is kept in mind,” he says. “In terms of the genetic losses, it’s important we get kökako to increase their growth rates as soon as possible. We’d like to see more pest management at all relict sites to ensure kökako are robust in the long-term.” Needless to say, mining in Pureora would not speed kökako recovery and would impact on many other native species, along with the ancient forest. “The impacts would be very severe. If you create gaps of more than 200 metres you create barriers for kökako movement,” says Ian. “The whole forest is quite unique.” 5 Kākā are one of the rare species found in Pureora. Photo: Luc
6 Pureora Forest is home to one of the most significant
populations of kōkako. Photo: Luc Hoogenstein
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With the general election date set for September 20, politicians are on the campaign trail and so is Forest & Bird. By Claire Browning. Photo: Luc Hoogenstein
Our ecological economy
Oceans. Love our oceans or lose them. The proportion of protected areas and priority given to ocean protection is inadequate and stark compared to what’s open for exploitation. What could real ocean protection look like, in which a joined-up network of much bigger areas not only helps marine life but has spin-off benefits for our fisheries? 28
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Freshwater. In the end it’ll be freshwater – not dairy – that’s crucial for life. We’re calling for good processes around freshwater: democratic processes that support good decisions, and a removal of irrigation subsidies. Farming less intensively means not only cleaner water but growth in biodiversity and profit. Your vote has downstream effects!
obs, growth, return to surplus and careful management: this is the government’s election story, in which our abundant natural resources are the economic heroes. Harvesting water through dam projects for irrigation, mining and minerals expansion with the largest-ever oil and gas block offer issued in April, doubling dairy production, economic development out in the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ): these have been the government’s focus areas in the last six years. Built on and around natural resources and environment, the future for our people and our place relies completely on their sustainable management. As an environment group, Forest & Bird tells an economic story with a difference, about ecological thinking and growth. New Zealanders love our place. 69 per cent say conservation is at the heart of what it means to be a New Zealander. In New Zealand Herald reporting on a Colmar Brunton survey, “What it is to be a Kiwi”, the features and close proximity of our nature (landscapes, beaches, oceans, national parks) were overwhelmingly aspects of life in New Zealand about which people felt most proud. So in 2014 we’re inviting all political parties to step towards a future in which there are no trade-offs: in which this is not a debate featuring nature on one side and a pile of money on the other. Luckily, things that are good for nature mean more jobs and economic resilience, as well as birdsong, clean rivers – all of the things that we love. We gain a future for our children, a strong economy featuring no loss of profit for farmers, higher yields, greater premiums. According to an important piece of economic work published last year by Greenpeace New Zealand, which modelled a clean energy future compared with a fossil-fuelled one, as many as four times more local jobs are created from clean energy transformation. We gain a rich and resilient New Zealand, with the kudos for living up to our reputation as the little country that could – a brave and clever little country that does the right thing.
Public conservation land mining, and stewardship land. Public conservation land is our land - ours not mines. With highvalue conservation areas affected by the latest block offer of oil and gas tenders, this is the Schedule 4 fight, round two. No mining in our national parks does not mean mining everywhere else.
In April the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published its latest reports, starkly enumerating the consequences of continuing down a carbon-intensive road for our climate and living places. For New Zealand, it included sea level rise drowning our coastal communities and low-lying main centres, wildfires, drought and flood. It was followed, a week later, by the block offer 2014 announcement of new oil and gas tenders, cutting a swathe through public conservation lands around Kahurangi National Park on the West Coast – including parts formerly saved from beech forest logging – Victoria Forest Park, other forest parks and many ecological areas. Our oceans, too, are on the block. With 99 per cent of our oceans unsafe from exploitation, where is the parallel bidding process for parts that must be protected? Is that, too, open for nominations? Labour politicians, too, have backed mining and fossil fuels, although they would do so alongside clean energy and do more to regulate. Is it a winning strategy? Bathurst Resources is struggling against the plummeting price of coal. Petrobras, which surrendered its deep sea oil drilling permits off the East Coast of the North Island, is in deep financial difficulty. Anadarko’s summer exploration programme left the Texans quietly plugging dry test wells and slipping away – for now. As the IPCC mitigation report makes clear: a shift to clean energy is 100 per cent possible, at almost zero economic cost, with many co-benefits. In 2014 Forest & Bird is working hard on campaigns that – while they deliver on all our usual outcomes – are about our economic future. We will build it on a networked approach to terrestrial ecology and marine protection, and bold ambitions like a predator-free New Zealand and a shift to 100 per cent renewable energy by 2050. These visions suggest a new way of thinking and ecological growth – taking us down a tree-lined road to a place where people live. Claire Browning is Forest & Bird’s Strategic Policy Adviser.
Economic transformation, climate change response – oil-free seas. It’s time to wean ourselves off fossil-fuelled dependence – for the sake of the climate on which our economy depends and because clean energy promises more economic resilience. We don’t want oil spilled in our seas. It’s too risky for our dolphins, whales, beaches, birds and clean green brand. Marine Important Bird Areas. We’ll be publishing a major piece of work mapping seabird foraging and breeding grounds. Among its purposes, this will contribute to good marine reserve design, identifying key seabird areas affected or at risk by the offshore oil drilling programme, and advocacy for sustainable fisheries in which seabird by-catch is reduced. Forest & Bird
rule the roost Sue Maturin caught a glimpse of New Zealand as it once was when she was mobbed by birds on the Chatham Islands.
ew Zealand is the seabird capital of the world but it wasn’t until I visited Rangatira Island in the Chathams that I realised how mainland New Zealand could and should be like. The sound in the forest was deafening as I stumbled out of bed at 4am with camera, lights and sound gear. The tïtï, white-faced storm petrels, diving petrels, grey-backed storm petrels, broadbilled prions and blue penguins were gathering for take-off under the cover of darkness to avoid the hungry skuas. Hundreds of tïtï, or sooty shearwaters, were scurrying through the tangled forest, crashing into each other in their haste to get to sea. Large impatient tïtï sat outside their burrows, bellowing to their mates to hurry up, others were digging their way back into the burrow for the day, kicking out loose soil. As the sky lightened and the throng of birds started moving to their take-off points, the sound reached a crescendo like the finale of a symphony. Black robins and Chatham Island warblers began chiming in, preparing for their takeover of the forest. Tiny storm petrels came dancing from the shadows. Attracted by my lights, they landed on my head, my shoulders and fluttered up my chest. It was like gently
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batting away a barrage of ping pong balls. Dimming my lights, I watched a gang of five scrambling up their daily take-off tree. They stuck their bills into gaps in the tree and with their long slender legs and using their wings like egg beaters they pulled, pushed and flapped their way up. Pairs of snipes out feeding flew straight up with a whirring of wings. There was so much action I couldn’t decide what to film or where to put my sound gear. I had to stick to the welltrodden paths. To stray risked crashing through a burrow and squashing a broad-billed prion, a diving petrel or a penguin’s eggs or chicks. At an average of 1.7 burrows per square metre, the risk was high, even wearing snowboardlike plywood shoes. Rangatira Island, a 219-hectare nature reserve, is one of New Zealand’s premier seabird islands. Once farmed, it is now largely covered in low bush and is free of all introduced pests. It has never had rats or cats so it is riddled with seabird burrows. There are more than a million pairs of white-faced storm petrels and hundreds of thousands of prions, tïtï and petrels. Famed for its part in the rescue of the black robin that almost became extinct, Rangatira is less well known for
being the only home to the Chatham petrel, which was also rescued from the brink of extinction. Its numbers dwindled to 100-130 breeding pairs before intensive management to protect their burrows from competition with the much more numerous broad-billed prions began in the late 1980s. Department of Conservation scientists discovered that broad-billed prions would take over the petrels’ burrows as they returned to breed in October, beating the petrels, which arrive in December. Hundreds of artificial burrows were fitted with a neoprene flap that allows the petrels to enter but stops the prions. Now there are an estimated 1400 Chatham petrels, and some chicks have been transferred to predator-proof fenced enclosures on nearby Pitt Island/Rangiäuria and Sweetwater on the south coast of the main Chatham Island. Already 17 pairs have settled back on Pitt Island and the first breeding was confirmed at Sweetwater in 2012. I went to Rangatira to help DOC seabird scientist Graeme Taylor retrieve geolocators from tïtï and broadbilled prions. He had attached the devices 12-18 months ago to the tïtï, which have one of the longest migrations of any bird. Graeme worked day and night, shoving his arms deep into burrows, most often finding nothing, sometimes a banded tïtï or a grumpy penguin. By day five he had only found five of the 18 geolocators he wanted. New Zealand’s tïtï population has almost halved since the 1970s, partly due to drift net fishing in the North Pacific Ocean. Drift nets were banned in the early 1990s but our tïtï still get caught on longlines and in trawls, some in New Zealand waters but mostly on the open seas, where, unlike in local waters, there are no best practice guidelines. Scientists are worried that climate change is exacerbating the more recent declines. Graeme says tïtï are a good sentinel species for climate change because they feed over such a large area of the Pacific Ocean. Their changes in behaviour can act as an early warning of global changes in the marine environment. The geolocators also tell us whether they have been successful in raising chicks. Graeme and many other scientists use geolocators to look for changes in the shift length of incubating birds and the time it takes them to find food for their chicks. James Grecian from the University of Glasgow was also with us to study broad-billed prions. He collected minute feather samples to analyse the stable isotope ratios of carbon and nitrogen. The carbon isotopes reveal where the birds feed – offshore/inshore, in deep or surface waters – and the nitrogen isotopes show the birds’ position in the food chain. Getting feather samples was easy compared with retrieving data loggers from the tïtï. As the moon phase changed and the nights got brighter, we had to change plans and instead of working half the night, we needed to get up well before dawn. With two nights to go, we had 13 geolocators to find. Another volunteer, Graeme Loh, had spotted a tïtï takeoff point on a cliff close to a study site. He made each of us a catching net out of supplejack and netting. We lay in wait at dawn on the tïtï track, where the tïtï would be forced to pass between us. Tension was high, each of us
PITT ISLAND • RANGATIRA ISLAND •
1 The Chatham petrel was rescued from the brink of
extinction. Photo: Graeme Taylor
2 Numbers of sooty shearwaters have almost halved since the
1970s. Photo: Dick Veitch
3 The landing site for visitors to Rangatira Island.
Photo: Sue Maturin
Forest & Bird
Sue Maturin filming on the Chatham Islands. Photo: Graeme Loh
nervous we would fumble and miss a bird with a geolocator. The birds came slowly at first, but as the sky lightened the activity gathered pace, the noise growing ever louder and groups of six or more rushed past, followed immediately by another group. For the next 30 minutes more than 200 birds rushed past us. With each suspected glimpse of a silver band on a leg, we would gently lay our nets on top of a surprised tïtï. We had no luck the first morning but on the next morning – our last – we again ambushed the birds. As the last bird headed towards us, we saw it had a geolocater. Despite our excitement we had to be especially still, until it was easily within reach, in case we scared it away. James netted it. We later discovered that it had been visiting the seas off Japan. Other tags showed another tïtï had been off the coast of Japan, one flew south past Hawaii, and another gave the
first record of a tïtï from Rangatira going to the California current off Los Angeles. Here the population of tïtï has declined 90 per cent since the early 1990s. DOC’s specialist rodent catcher, Fin Buchanan, and his dog, Ka Pai Kuri, also came with us, and spent two days searching the island to make sure no rats or mice had hitched a ride with a visitor or swum off a fishing boat. New Zealand was and still is the stronghold for a dazzling array of seabird species. No fewer than 35 seabird species are endemic (found nowhere else). Today only Hutton’s shearwaters still breed in the mountains, whereas in the past up to a dozen species would have flown inland to higher ground to rear their chicks. The coast would have been covered in seabird burrows, providing homes and food for many different reptiles and invertebrates. The arrival of introduced pests, especially rats, changed this forever. Rangatira Island is a vision of what New Zealand could be again. If we can rid mainland New Zealand of predators, some areas will once again be safe for seabirds. DOC has led the world in clearing islands of pests. A predator-free New Zealand is within the realms of possibility. Sue Maturin is Forest & Bird’s Otago/Southland Field Officer. Sue Maturin’s film, Tracking Tïtï’s Travels, is at www.youtube.com/user/forestandbird
It’s in our nature to camp by a glacial lake, tramp beside a braided river, through a native forest or along a clean beach. It’s not in our nature to let fossil fuel and gold prospecting, intensive land development, budget cuts and offshore drilling put that at risk. Make a stand for New Zealand’s environment. Help us help nature by Photo: Peter Langlands
making a donation at
Honda’s forest for the future Honda’s focus is making New Zealand a greener place to live. The Honda Treefund was established in 2004 as part of founder Soichiro Honda’s global philosophy to “leave blue skies for our children”. More than 557,000 native trees have been planted as part of the Honda Treefund, which helps offset carbon emissions and helps restore nature around New Zealand. Honda NZ funds 10 native trees and the local dealer funds another three for every new car sold in New Zealand. The car buyer can also choose to fund planting extra trees. Honda staff and the wider community get involved in Treefund. Community groups, schools and councils are actively involved in using Treefund resources to plant trees. The Honda Treefund is used to control water run-off and erosion, in regional parks, for beautification, biodiversity protection and restoration, urban stream and coastal enhancement. Honda has made several international environmental advancements in the automotive field and beyond. All its vehicles are low emission, with three achieving ultra-low emission status. Honda has developed a zero-emission hydrogen fuel cell vehicle and fuelling stations, and numerous hybrid models, including the world’s first hybrid supercar and home energy stations powered by advanced solar panels. Honda is a proud sponsor of Forest & Bird and provides a fleet of ecofriendly cars for staff around New Zealand. They reduce the environmental impact of driving, especially for Forest & Bird field officers who sometimes have to travel large distances. Forest & Bird CEO Hone McGregor says Forest & Bird greatly values the partnership with Honda. “Having the fleet of cars allows us to spend more of our income on vital conservation work and less on running costs. I am very proud of our association with Honda and I encourage our members to support Honda.” www.honda.co.nz
Cool clothes for kids Forest & Bird is partnering with Radicool Dude, a New Zealand clothing brand created for boys aged up to eight years. Husband and wife team Brendan and Emily Boniface created Radicool Kids after having their son, River. They found a lack of cool, fun and affordable fashion so they launched their first collection, winter 2014, into stores across New Zealand. Brendan and Emily wanted to draw awareness to organisations close to their heart, which is how the partnership with Forest & Bird was born. “It was a simple choice as we adore the outdoors and are avid nature lovers. Many of our designs are nature focused,” says Brendan. The Lark tee has a beautiful tree print, and is the first piece promoting the partnership with Forest & Bird. www.radicoolkids.com
Donna Davies and her son Zac planting for Honda Treefund.
Scents from nature Pacific Perfumes is giving Forest & Bird $1 from every sale of its Artisan Botanical Solid Perfume range. All ingredients are from plants and the wooden perfume pots are made from certified sustainable New Zealand beech. Owners Francesca Brice and Kate JasonSmith support Forest & Bird’s role in protecting and nurturing Aotearoa’s native plants and birds. They would like to encourage other small businesses to support Forest & Bird. http://pacificperfumes.co.nz
River Boniface wearing a Radicool Lark tee. Forest & Bird
KCC gathering momentum Kiwi Conservation Club (KCC) co-ordinators from around New Zealand met Forest & Bird President Andrew Cutler, Executive member Barry Wards and CEO Höne McGregor in Wellington in March during their annual gathering. The volunteers, who lead local activities for KCC families, said they wanted a greater voice for KCC at all levels of Forest & Bird decision making. After the weekend many asked their local Forest & Bird branch committees to support their bid for a KCC representative on Forest & Bird’s national Council. The 26 people, representing 63 KCC co-ordinators from 36 groups, workshopped the Forest & Bird Youth Strategy being developed by KCC Manager Tiff Stewart. The strategy will provide the overarching direction for Forest & Bird’s work with children and young adults over the next five years.
The weekend gathering also gave co-ordinators the opportunity to share ideas and take new activities back to their groups. They braved the chilly waters of Taputeranga Marine Reserve at Island Bay to snorkel on an Experiencing Marine Reserves-led expedition. They saw more marine life at the Island Bay Marine Education Centre. Wild Things magazine editor Johanna Knox joined group activities at Ötari-Wilton’s Bush. A highlight was a night visit to Zealandia sanctuary, where several kiwi were seen. A new KCC co-ordinator, astronomer Ron Fisher, ran an impromptu star-gazing session. KCC co-ordinators appreciated support from their Forest & Bird branches, which covered their travel costs. www.kcc.org.nz
In May Melanie Dash joined the Kiwi Conservation Club (KCC) team as a part-time KCC Officer in Wellington. She will help run the children’s club with part-time Dunedinbased KCC Manager Tiff Stewart. Other members of the KCC team are Johanna Knox, who edits Wild Things magazine for KCC members, and Rob Di Leva, who is the magazine’s art director and designer.
1 KCC co-ordinators at Ōtari-Wilton’s Bush. 2 Kate Graeme from Tauranga, left, and Margi Keys from
North Shore prepare to snorkel in Taputeranga Marine Reserve.
3 Retiring Upper Hutt KCC co-ordinator Georgie Dobson,
left, with Win Parkes from South Canterbury.
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Southern supporter Southland Forest & Bird member and Old Blue winner Rob Snoep died in February, aged 83. Rob was passionate about Forest & Bird, Tautuku Lodge and Te Rere Scientific Reserve in the Catlins, and he contributed his maintenance skills to Forest & Bird projects. He and wife Peggy were honoured with Forest & Bird’s Old Blue award in 2005 for their work. Rob moved to New Zealand from the Netherlands in 1955 and settled in Invercargill, where he worked in the automotive business. He was an artist and loved gardening. Rob faced many challenges in his life but continued to be positive and was an inspiration to others. He is survived by Peggy, children Rachel, Stephen and Geoff and five grand-daughters. n Jenny Campbell
Auckland action man Auckland Central branch committee member Steve McCready died in February, aged 61. Steve was a Forest & Bird member for many years, and joined the branch committee in 2011. Branch chairperson Rob Jones says Steve was a key volunteer at Pourewa Valley at Kohimarama “and was involved in everything from representing Forest & Bird at festival events to submitting feedback on infrastructure plans”. He also volunteered at Pollen Island and several other Forest & Bird projects and put his skills in computer project management to use with branch administration. He loved nature and encouraged native birds to his Mt Eden garden by allowing it to run wild. Steve was active in the Whau River Catchment Trust, which works to improve the environmental health of the West Auckland river.
Visitor from Fiji In February and March Forest & Bird hosted an intern from our BirdLife partner organisation in Fiji. Mere Valu, from NatureFiji-MareqetiViti (NFMV), is developing an environmental education programme, and came to New Zealand to learn about Forest & Bird’s Kiwi Conservation Club (KCC). Mere met staff and volunteers from KCC, Forest & Bird and other organisations, including the Department of Conservation, Wellington Zoo and Volunteer Service Abroad, in Wellington and Auckland. She also pitched in to help KCC manager Tiff Stewart run the KCC co-ordinators’ gathering. A BirdLife International Conservation Leadership Award funded Mere’s trip.
In Fiji Mere’s work centres on landowning communities – identifying sustainable land use management techniques, initiating forest restoration projects and empowering local conservation groups. Fiji and New Zealand share similar conservation challenges, such as invasive pests, though fortunately New Zealand does not have the aggressive Indian mongoose.
Forest & Bird
Bat lovers plot rescue Establishing a bat database and a dedicated bat society were some of the ideas discussed at the national bat conference in March, which drew together bat conservationists for the first time in 10 years. Forest & Bird Top of the South Field Officer Debs Martin organised the fourth national conference on the back of her region’s five-year bat surveys. The conference aimed to share scientific information and better integrate the activities of people working with the threatened species. The last bat conference was in 2004. More than 70 people attended – including jewellers, council staff, scientists, politicians, film-makers and DOC staff – to share knowledge and work collaboratively to improve education and conservation for New Zealand’s long-tailed and short-tailed bat species. The conference was in Rai Valley, in Marlborough, and was supported by Ngäti Kuia and the Department of Conservation. All aspects of bat conservation were discussed, such as public outreach, pest control, state of the art monitoring techniques, case studies, research barriers and corporate sponsorship. “People from across the country joined together to discuss ways in which we could improve bat conservation, generate targeted research, raise money for much-needed pest control and improve bat habitat across all types of landscapes from semi-urban hotspots to unmodified forests,” says Debs.
Auckland Council Senior Biodiversity Officer Ben Paris – who has a batman Facebook profile with about 850 fans – says the conference allowed him to get a sense of the wider bat community. Despite working in bat conservation for more than five years, he had previously met only a handful of New Zealand bat experts. He says the conference was about filling knowledge gaps and sharing information and resources. “There is a significant amount of research out there – 25 theses have been completed in the past 20 years, though there are still some critical gaps,” he says. “We covered everything from big issues such as the effect of global warming to local citizen science-based initiatives to improve monitoring. I learnt a lot. I didn’t know wasps were such a huge problem in the South Island beech forests. At the peak season in Nelson forests, the biomass of wasps can be greater than the combined biomass of all of our birds, rodents and mustelids.” The conference was held in prime bat country, so each night participants could go bat-spotting and learn how to identify bat flyways and put up bat monitoring boxes and harp traps. On a post-conference field trip to D’Urville Island attendees caught and handled bats. At the end of the conference a steering group was established to spearhead many of the ideas generated. “Everyone is re-enthused and re-inspired,” says Debs. “The conversation had stalled. We really needed to learn what other people were doing and how we could move forward. We’ve already confirmed the next conference in Hamilton in 2016 so this conversation will now be ongoing.” n Mandy Herrick 1 Conference participants putting up harp traps, used to catch
bats as they fly at night.
2 People from around New Zealand attended the Marlborough
bat conference in March.
3 The first bat – a juvenile male long-tailed bat – caught on
D’Urville Island. Photo: Brian Lloyd
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Moving on to bigger things A former KCC kid from New Plymouth has co-founded an African foundation to save large marine animals. By Jay Harkness.
imon Pierce was keen on nature when he joined KCC. He grew up on a Taranaki farm with plenty of bush, and he would walk through it with an umbrella, “shaking trees to see what fell out of them”. After studying ecology at Victoria University, Simon moved to Queensland to complete a PhD. He then headed to Mozambique, on Africa’s eastern coast, where he helped set up the Marine Megafauna Foundation. The foundation aims to save the region’s biggest sea creatures, including what Simon calls “fluffy sharks” – whale sharks. The whale shark is the world’s biggest fish. Simon says the first time he saw a whale shark its size didn’t make much of an impression. “I was so focused on taking photos I had to remember to actually look at it. It was amazing to interact with an animal that size.” The foundation also advocates for manta rays, sea turtles, dugongs, dolphins and humpback whales. Simon credits KCC and the North Taranaki branch of Forest & Bird with being important stepping stones towards his adult achievements. He says that even though he joined the branch at a young age, the adults treated him as an equal and helped foster his interest with regular talks and trips to places like Kapiti Island. Speaking for conservation is one thing in a relatively wealthy country, where the health of the environment is intrinsic to many of the ways in which we make a living. It is harder to speak for conservation in a country where half the population lives below the poverty line. Gross domestic product in Mozambique is about NZ$1400 per person, compared with NZ$35,000 in New Zealand. Simon says the country’s conservation department is concerned with issues on the land, and the fisheries department is interested in commercial target species. Tourists have been travelling to Mozambique to dive with whale sharks since the early 2000s but the tourism authority did not realise this until Simon’s foundation presented it with research showing the industry existed. For a long time local fishers believed scuba-diving 2 tourists would scare off their fish. The foundation demonstrated this was not the case, which was an important step in encouraging the growth of the tourism industry. Simon intends to carry on setting the stage for what he hopes will one day be a fully-fledged eco-tourism sector. Locals use large set nets off the coast and there is no ocean sanctuary of any kind but progress is being made towards that goal, says Simon. The foundation also teaches schoolchildren to swim. As a graduation present, they go on an ocean safari, where they get what is for most the rare chance to see whale sharks and other marine life.
Recruiting local conservation advocates is critical because foreigners preaching the cause of conservation understandably have a harder job getting their message heard. Young people who aspire to do what Simon does can take heart when Simon says that coming from New Zealand was no barrier to getting work around the world. “Kiwis get on with people. Science is a team sport. The ability to work across cultures is crucial.” After seven years in Mozambique, Simon describes himself as a “digital nomad”, spending much of his time in the United Kingdom, with regular trips back to Africa, the Americas and, of course, New Zealand. marinemegafauna.org 1
1 Simon Pierce grew up with a passion for nature. 2 Simon Pierce with a whale shark, the world’s biggest fish.
KCC today The Kiwi Conservation Club (KCC) is Forest & Bird’s club for children. To join KCC or see what current KCC kids do, see www.kcc.org.nz
Forest & Bird
Who’s in your garden?
Photographs by: Andrew Walmsley Tom Marshall Craig MacKenzie Brian Massa Roger South www.istock.com
SURVEY 2014 28 June - 6 July
Landcare Research and Forest & Bird are asking for the public’s help again this year in spotting birds in New Zealand gardens. Taking part is easy – spend just 1 hour (that’s 1 hour only) sometime between 28 June and 6 July looking for birds in your garden, parks or school grounds. For each species you detect, record the largest number you see (or hear) at the same time. Please count not just tick the species you observe. The easy to follow guide below will help you identify most birds you are likely to see. Then fill in and return the survey form opposite or enter your results online (which helps us to process the results faster and more easily) at: http://gardenbirdsurvey.landcareresearch.co.nz Regularly updated survey results will be available on the same website, and will provide valuable information about bird populations, giving scientists an indication of which species may be in decline, helping guide conservation efforts for the future.
(not to scale) Medium-sized birds Up to 30cm
Small birds 15cm or less
Large birds Over 30cm
House Sparrow (m)
House Sparrow (f)
Mr, Mrs, Ms, Miss, Master (circle)
Please note: we will not give or sell your details to anyone else, we require them so we can contact you if necessary to clarify your results. If you prefer us not to contact you again, please tick here
How many took part?
Lawn, garden, shrubs <5m
Lawn & flower or vege garden
Lawn, garden, shrubs, trees >5m
Was search area
More than 600 m
400-600 m2 (e.g. up to 20×30m)
200-400 m2 (e.g. up to 20×20m)
100-200 m2 (e.g. up to 10×20m)
Up to 100 m2 (e.g. up to 10×10m)
Area searched for birds (except birds flying overhead)
Description of survey area (please tick one)
Number & Street
Physical address where you did the survey:
Please re-fold leaflet and tape along edge before posting
Fix Stamp here
Eric Spurr New Zealand Garden Bird Survey 47 Brixton Rd Manly Whangaparaoa 0930
Myna Red-billed Gull Rock Pigeon Rosella (Eastern) Silvereye Song Thrush Starling Tui Welcome Swallow Yellowhammer
Blackbird Black-backed Gull Chaffinch Dunnock Fantail Goldfinch Greenfinch Grey Warbler House Sparrow Kereru
Do you have a water-bath for birds?
Other (please describe)
Did your survey area include the area where you feed birds? (please tick)
If yes, what? (please tick)
Do you feed birds? (please tick)
Other species counted during the hour (give number)
For each species record the largest number seen (or heard) at the same time – NOT the total number over the hour – do not enter zeros
Please do the survey for 1 hour only, sometime between 28 Jun & 6 Jul 2014
Place $5 note here
Just $5 a month can be the difference between keeping our wildlife and wild places, and losing them forever. Please visit forestandbird.org.nz/joinus today.
A CLIMATE FOR CHANGE
Rivers running dry Jay Harkness weighs up whether water storage dams have a part to play in coping with climate change.
t’s been 49 years since United States president Lyndon Johnson told Congress: “This generation has altered the composition of the atmosphere on a global scale through ... a steady increase in carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels”. And yet there is still no agreed means to stop the average global temperature rising above two degrees. Because climate change is treated as such a political football, some players engage in fancy footwork to remain a part of the game. Federated Farmers – despite trying to cast doubt on the science of human induced climate change – has cited climate change as a reason to build more water storage dams. Not coincidentally, more water will allow the federation’s current and future members to make more money from their farms. Recently, the organisation’s climate change spokesman, Dr William Rolleston, was quoted in a federation media release as saying: “Water storage is more than a farming tool, it is a legitimate climate adaptation tool as well.” Other parties, such as the backers of the Ruataniwha irrigation dam and Irrigation New Zealand, regularly promote what they say are the environmental benefits of water storage dams. Contrast this with the efforts by Forest & Bird staff,
Hastings-Havelock North branch members, the Environmental Defence Society and Fish and Game to ensure a voice for nature was heard by the Board of Inquiry into the Ruataniwha irrigation dam planned for Hawke’s Bay. So are water storage dams a cure or curse? Forest & Bird Advocacy Manager Kevin Hackwell says “that depends”. As the effects of climate change continue to bite, water management will become an even bigger issue for the country’s natural heritage, he says. “NIWA says historic rainfall patterns are going to continue to become more exaggerated. It’s going to get even wetter on the west sides of both islands and far drier in the east. “As farmers see their animals and crops under threat, water’s going to become a bigger battleground. So it’s vital we get a robust and fair system for managing water set up now before things heat up even more. And of course this system must ensure that the quality of water and flow levels are protected and, where necessary, improved so our native species can continue to survive in healthy lakes, rivers and streams.” In April the Board of Inquiry into the proposed Ruataniwha water storage dam ruled that the dam’s backers couldn’t get the change they wanted to the regional plan, Forest & Bird
1 which would have scrapped limits on nitrogen levels in the Tukituki River. The Hawke’s Bay Regional Council’s investment arm, which is part-funding the project, has since said the project is not economic. That’s because farmers find it difficult to stop nitrogen from reaching waterways without taking very expensive measures, like housing all their stock in sheds and collecting most stock waste. Kevin says that if a dam – and the intensification that inevitably follows – can be made economic without affecting freshwater quality and levels, it is possible there can be environmental positives from water storage. “Take a catchment that is already being irrigated with water from either the river or from groundwater. If those irrigators at the top of the catchment were to use water from a storage dam instead, that would reduce the pressure on both the river and groundwater throughout the rest of the catchment. More water would stay in the rivers and the aquifers in the upper catchment would get properly recharged. Not only would that be good for the health of the river and its wildlife, but it should also mean that there will be more reliable groundwater available for those farmers closer to the coast.” Kevin cautions that it is important that variation in flow levels – particularly flooding - remains. “Some of our birds, like the wrybill or the black or pied stilt, breed on open shingle banks. If the river no longer floods, plants will grow across the shingle, providing cover for predators to attack those birds. Lots of plant cover equals lots of dead wrybills or stilts.” Forest & Bird isn’t opposed to all water storage dams. Kevin says the Land and Water Forum – which includes farming, environmental, iwi and recreational representatives – isn’t either. But because water storage dams can have such wide-reaching impacts on public property (affecting water flow, water quality, ecology and often flooding public land), and because so many of the benefits are privatised, the forum’s position is that any taxpayer money should be targeted at the planning stage. 42
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The Land and Water Forum also says there need to be robust environmental bottom lines, that the planning process should be collaborative and transparent, and that there should be some clear public benefit. The government’s $400 million water storage fund does not do a good job of meeting those criteria, Kevin says. “Under the present regime, the benefits of a dam are both subsidised and privatised, while any costs, including environmental costs, are socialised. And from the point of view of financial risk to taxpayers, people should take note of the fact that the banks generally are not funding them. That’s why the backers of these schemes always have their hands out for public money.” Location, location, location is key to building a dam. “An irrigation dam should never be on a river’s main stem. It’s also vital that the type of farming is suited to the location. That means not setting up dairy farms in the Mackenzie Basin, for example,” Kevin says. The changing climate won’t just result in more droughts. One of the keys to dealing with flooding has four legs and a bushy tail. “If you get rid of possums and other pests, the forest in the upper parts of our catchments will be healthier. The healthier they are, the more water they will absorb after a rainstorm. You not only reduce the damaging flood peaks, but the healthy catchment forests hold the moisture for much longer into the dry summer months, which means more water in the river’s flow for longer periods.” Good pest control, as part of a better approach to catchment management, will reduce the need for many dams. Above all, it is crucial to do everything we can to limit climate change.
2 1 Pied stilts and other river birds breed on open shingle banks.
If the river no longer floods, plants will grow across the shingle, providing cover for predators to attack the birds. Photo: Craig McKenzie
2 Irrigation for dairy cattle is destroying the dryland plants of
the Mackenzie Basin.
Amazing facts about…
Photo: Mike Joy
By Michelle Harnett
he native New Zealand lamprey, Geotria australis, is a cryptic creature. Most people have never seen a piharau (North Island) or kanakana (South Island) and if they did they would probably mistake it for an eel, but for the six gill spots in a row behind each eye. All doubt would be removed when the lamprey opened its round, jawless mouth to show rows of horny teeth used to suck on to its fishy prey, and a rasping tongue to rip into
YOUR WINTER GETAWAY STARTS HERE
its victim’s flesh. Lampreys have no bones and very little cartilage, marking them as ancient and primitive fish. Adult lampreys spend their lives at sea. The little that is known of that time comes from examining the stomach contents of albatrosses since lampreys are found close to the surface in cold, sub-Antarctic seas. After perhaps three to four years at sea, the mature adults return to fresh waterways to spawn. Whether or not they return to the stream of their birth is unclear. Arriving in autumn/winter, the returning adults, now one metre long, travel upriver by night. If necessary, they can leave the water and wriggle along river edges. They can also climb rocks and cliffs using their teeth, and have been seen climbing a 14m hydro dam using this method. The journey upstream takes about 16 months, during which time the lampreys don’t eat and they become sexually mature. Actual spawning has never been observed in New Zealand and the first lamprey nest ever discovered was reported in late 2013. Baby lampreys (ammocoetes) bury themselves in mud and emerge at night to feed. Over three to four years they grow up to 10 centimetres then begin the metamorphosis into mini-adults. At the same time, they move downstream and enter the ocean in winter to start their mysterious life at sea. Lampreys are believed to be widely spread throughout New Zealand but their secretive lifestyle makes it difficult to confirm this, how many there are and whether or not their numbers are declining. It is likely, in common with other native freshwater fish, that they are threatened by habitat loss.
Bookings are now open for Forest & Bird’s Mount Ruapehu Lodge in Whakapapa Village. Stay at our comfortable, familyfriendly lodge from where you can hit the slopes, trek the beech forest and keep a look out for resident kiwi or whio. Forest & Bird members receive a discounted rate. Book at www.forestandbird.org.nz/ ruapehulodge.
Forest & Bird
Gillian Candler took a short boat trip from Stewart Island to experience Ulva Island’s birdlife and magnificent forest.
wo things set Ulva Island apart from New Zealand’s other island sanctuaries of Kapiti and Tiritiri Matangi. The first is the island’s accessibility, just 10 minutes by boat from Oban on Stewart Island. Visitors come and go at different times on water taxis and other small craft. Accessibility means flexibility for visitors, who can choose the length and style of their visit. The second feature is Ulva Island’s mature podocarp forest, rather than the regenerating bush of the other two sanctuaries. Impressive ancient rimu, miro and tötara tower over a lush understorey of ferns. Wanting to get the most out of our visit, my party of four opted for a guided tour. There were some things we didn’t need a guide to show us. We couldn’t miss the brazen käkä or the friendly Stewart Island robins. The robins are territorial and we encountered a different bird around each corner, which slowed our progress considerably since we found them irresistibly cute. But with the help of our guide, Peter Tait, from Sails Ashore, we learned to identify the call of the saddleback, or tïeke, and to pick out its muted colours among the trees.
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We found it paid to look closely even among the birds that became a regular feature of the walk. Peter pointed out a yellow-crowned käkäriki, an unusual sight among flocks of its red-crowned cousins. On one beach a weka poked around, hustling its nearly grown chicks along the tide line. I was disappointed that the yellowhead, or möhua, stayed hidden but I was pleased to see flocks of the brown creeper, or pïpipi, in the canopy. Other small groups moved around the pathways, some guided, some using a guide book. Peter’s tours have included people with wheelchairs and walkers. The paths are well groomed but we were impressed by this achievement. Peter was a former forest ranger on Stewart Island and knows the trees and plants of Ulva Island well. He pointed out small spider orchids and the hanging lady’s slipper orchids. We learned that Ulva Island’s Mäori name – Te Wharawhara – means “astelia”. We discussed the impact that bark stripping by käkä has on the trees, and we heard about the eradication of deer, which Peter had helped with by selectively distributing poison among their favoured trees.
An island sanctuary is as much defined by what doesn’t live there as what does. Ulva has never had possums or stoats. Deer were eradicated in the 1970s, followed by rats in 1997. But rats remain an ongoing problem as roughly one rat a year finds its way to the island. Department of Conservation staff and a rat dog got off a boat shortly after us to do their regular check of the island and its traps. We left the island after four hours. Despite all our new impressions, we felt relaxed and refreshed from our walk through its ancient forest. I’ll be back next time I’m on Stewart Island, hoping that the elusive möhua will come out of hiding. 1 Visitors are dropped off at the jetty, then the boats are
moored elsewhere. Photo: Philippa Doig
2 South Island saddlebacks, or tīeke, were released on Ulva
Island in 2000. Photo: Peter Tait
3 Winika cunninghamii (winika or lady’s slipper) is abundant
on the island. Photo: Peter Tait
4 Visitors should plan to spend several hours on the island.
Photo: Peter Tait
OBAN • ULVA ISLAND • STEWART ISLAND
Getting there Directions: 2
Ulva Island is a short boat trip from Oban on Stewart Island. Visitors can take a guided tour or organise their own water taxi and visit the island without a guide. Visitors are asked to take care not to introduce rodents or weeds.
When there: There are well formed walking tracks, shelters and toilets. The longest track takes about three hours, allowing for stops to watch birds. Ulva Island/Te Wharawhara Marine Reserve is next to the island. A small part of the island is privately owned and visitors are asked to respect this and keep to the paths. There is no accommodation on the island and night visits are not allowed.
More About Ulva Island: www.doc.govt.nz information: Ulva Island Charitable Trust: www.ulvaisland.org Sails Ashore Guided Tours: www.sailsashore.co.nz Forest & Bird
In the field ANN GRAEME
Last flight to Mexico Twenty years ago a billion American monarch butterflies made the annual trip south for the winter. Changes along their flight path mean a fraction of that number now do. By Ann Graeme.
magine you are a creature smaller than the palm of your hand, with paper-thin wings and a brain less than a pinhead. You are going to fly thousands of kilometres, without a guide, to a place you’ve never been to before, arriving on about the same day as millions of your fellows. You can do it! You’re a North American monarch butterfly about to migrate. Every autumn the butterflies living east of the Rocky Mountains fly up to 2500 kilometres south to spend the winter in the Oyamel forests of central Mexico. Traditionally they arrive about November 1 and cluster on the fir and pine trees to spend the winter. They smother the trees in a kaleidoscope of orange and black, wings flashing as they settle and newcomers jostle for a place. Their migration is a wonder of the natural world. At its recorded peak in 1996 more than a billion butterflies migrated and when they arrived they covered 18 hectares of forest. But the past decade has seen a steep and steady decline. Last year 60 million butterflies arrived. This year, only 35 million came. Less than a hectare of forest was adorned in colour. This age-old journey, this extraordinary spectacle, may be coming to an end. As for everything in the living world, the reasons for change are multiple and complex. The latest population drop may be explained by a two-year stretch of bad weather. Excessive heat and unseasonal cold snaps have killed butterflies and delayed migrations. Weather patterns may change – or they may worsen with climate change.
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Illegal logging has diminished the Oyamel forests but there are still trees there for the arriving butterflies. The greatest threat to the butterfly is its dwindling habitat in the vast expanse in the Midwest and the Great Plains over which they fly, feed and breed. Monarchs need milkweed. The adults lay their eggs on it and their caterpillars feed on its leaves. But along the monarch’s great flyway the milkweed is disappearing. Spurred by biofuel subsidies, maize prices have tripled in a decade, encouraging farmers to cultivate crops in places once deemed worthless for cultivation. But the lands were not worthless to the monarchs, for on them grew their caterpillars’ milkweed and the nectar-filled flowers the adult butterflies fed on. These lands even include 45,000 square kilometres of conservation reserve, which growers used to be paid a modest sum to leave fallow for wildlife. These reserves, which protected some of the last remaining native prairies, rangelands and wetlands, are now ploughed under to produce corn and soybeans. Entire ecosystems have been destroyed in the pursuit of “sustainable energy” as corn biofuel. Crop land used not to be entirely barren of wildlife. Milkweed and wildflowers used to grow between the crops and on the roadside. No longer. Even more Machiavellian to a butterfly brain, these scraps of vegetation have been wiped out by the rain of Roundup sprayed on the genetically engineered maize and soybean crops. So effective has been the milkweed eradication that scientists estimate that, between 1999 and 2010, monarch egg
Copper butterfly. Photo: Steve Attwood
What you can do for biodiversity 2 production in the Midwest has dropped by 81 per cent. Monarch butterflies are a symbol of the effect of intensive agriculture on the natural ecosystems of the American plains. Countless “weeds” – the habitat for unnoticed insects and unseen soil organisms – will also have declined or disappeared and with them will be going the birds and larger animals that made the plains their home. And going too are the bees, starved of nectar and poisoned by neonicotinoid insecticides in the monoculture of wind-pollinated maize. It would be comforting to think this is only happening in America, but that would be misguided. As our Prime Minister says proudly, we are fast followers. Just look at the intensification of our dairy farms. More and more of our dairy farms resemble the Great Plains. Instead of ecological deserts of maize and soybeans, we have deserts of rye grass and clover. On the treeless paddocks, only the irrigation systems stand tall while cows live their short lives without shade or shelter. Their diet is supplemented by palm kernel expeller, a profitable by-product of palm oil crops that are replacing the rainforests and displacing the orangutans of southern Asia. “It’s the economy, stupid” – even if it is unsustainable and makes a mockery of our clean and green image. But back to the butterflies. Borne on the westerly winds, adventurous monarch butterflies have travelled around the globe. Maybe they were also introduced to New Zealand when their milkweed host plants were brought here. Now, with the proliferation of swan plants in gardens, the butterflies are well established. They don’t migrate in New Zealand but they do over-winter in clusters of large coastal trees such as pöhutukawa, pine, macrocarpa and rimu. Our monarchs don’t face the threats of their American relations but they have enemies here, as have our other native butterflies. Some enemies are natives, like the brown soldier bug; some are exotic pests like the common, German and paper wasp species; and some are the ichneumon wasps and tachinid flies, introduced more than 50 years ago to control white butterflies. Those were the days before such biocontrol agents were rigorously tested for their effects on other species. 1 Like all insects, butterflies have six legs but monarch
butterflies appear to have four. The tiny forelegs are tucked up by the head. Photo: Luc Hoogenstein
2 The black spot on the vein of the hind wing identifies this
Monarch butterfly as a male. Photo: Jacqui Knight
At home each of us can mitigate in our small ways the loss of diversity in the sterile world of brick and concrete, golf course fairways, paddocks and pine trees. n Live and let live in the garden. Of course you don’t want pests to destroy the vegetables but try to minimise the use of herbicides. Avoid insecticides, particularly those containing neonicotinoid, and the bees and ladybirds will thank you n Perhaps you can become entirely organic and get nature on side. n Create a compost – it’s an ecosystem in itself and its product enriches and nourishes the soil, minimising the need for artificial fertilisers. n Don’t be too tidy. Tumbled rocks, wood piles and timber can shelter wëtä and skinks, and scraggly bushes suit spiders. n Indulge some weeds and let ground covers like pöhuehue sprawl. It makes ideal hiding places for skinks and is a host plant for our beautiful native copper butterflies. n Maintain a rat bait station. Rats eat our large native insects as well as lizards and the eggs and chicks of little birds like fantails. n Buy organic fresh produce and organic milk. Organic farms foster biodiversity, use little or no pesticides and artificial fertilisers and provide their stock with shade and shelter.
What you can do for butterflies Plant swan plants for monarch butterflies. Let weeds like nettles and pellitory grow for native yellow admiral caterpillars. If you are brave, grow the native nettle ongaonga, host plant for the indigenous red admiral butterfly. Grow flowers to delight the eye and feed the Red admiral. Photo: Steve Attwood nectar-eating butterflies, bees and other insects. Look up the Moths and Butterflies of New Zealand Trust at www.nzbutterflies.org.nz Forest & Bird
Taupö branch cares for rare plant Forest & Bird’s Taupö branch has become the guardian for a patch of rare dactylanthus, or wood rose, plants. The branch adopted the site at Kinloch after members visited the area with Department of Conservation staff in March. They counted 25 clumps of dactylanthus, also called pua o te rëinga. The plant is New Zealand’s only fully parasitic flowering plant and it has no green leaves. It grows on tree roots and in autumn the bulb-like flowers burst through the forest floor. Their intense scent attracts insects and shorttailed bats, which pollinate the plant. The scent also draws introduced pests, including rats and possums, which eat the plant. Pests and people digging it up for display are the reason it is in serious decline. Taupö branch committee members Laura Dawson, Anna McKnight (also the local DOC partnerships ranger) and Jane Battersby joined the March expedition to count the clumps. “As you sweep up the leaves and twigs you find bulbs coming up, a bit like crocus bulbs. We counted the
number of flowers coming up. One we found had 40 on it,” Jane says. Forest & Bird members originally discovered the plants at the site and collaborated with DOC to protect them with cages to stop possums and rats eating them. Short-tailed bats and insects can still get to the flowering plants. Because DOC lacks resources it is handing over management of the Kinloch dactylanthus to Forest & Bird’s Taupö branch. Forest & Bird members will return in October to count the dactylanthus seed heads. “Apart from counting them, we will have to maintain the cages and we might try pollinating them,” says Jane. “And we might look around for some more.”
2 1 Ian McNickel from DOC and Taupō branch member Jane
Battersby lift a cage to check dactyhlanthus plants. Photo: Anna McKnight
2 A native short-tailed bat pollinating dactylanthus flowers.
Photo: Ngā Manu Images
All ages flock to gannets Hawke’s Bay Forest & Bird and Kiwi Conservation Club (KCC) members linked up for a trip to see Cape Kidnappers gannets in March. Sixty members of Forest & Bird’s Napier branch and 40 children from Hastings/Havelock North KCC travelled on tractors to the cape. Napier branch chairman Neil Eagles says the group picked up a large amount of rubbish from the beach. “They enjoyed viewing the Black Reef gannets and sea life on the way before climbing the last few metres up to the major gannet colony,” he says. “This was a good combination of young and older members enjoying a day out helping with conservation and learning more of aquatic and bird life. The 48
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weather and views of the cape’s unique cliff formations was a real bonus. Thanks to Liz Carter for organising the trip.”
Waitaki branch bounces back Forest & Bird’s Waitaki branch has sprung back to life after 17 years in hibernation. The branch has held meetings and field trips and embarked on local conservation projects. Zuni Steer took the first steps to resurrect the branch in March 2013, and is now the chairperson. Last year the branch held four public meetings at the Öamaru Public Library, which were well attended by 30-40 members and non-members. Zuni says members have also joined field trips such as bird surveys and walks. “A highly successful botanising weekend on the St Mary’s Range in January pulled members from as far afield as Nelson, Christchurch, Dunedin and Alexandra. The weather and the flowers came to the party,” she says. During Conservation Week 1984, then Forest & Bird conservation director Gerry McSweeney opened Waitaki branch. President Ross Babington’s first field trip was to Kelcey’s Bush and Wainono Lagoon. For 12 years the branch ran successful field trips and public meetings, and at one time had more than 260 members. The branch successfully campaigned for the protection of little blue penguins around Öamaru Harbour, which resulted in a trust being set up. The penguins are now a major tourist attraction. Formal protection was encouraged for the yellow-eyed penguins at Bushey Beach, which is now managed by the Department of Conservation. The branch helped restore the habitat, provide nesting boxes and a viewing hide. For more than 20 years honorary ranger Jim Caldwell kept an eye on the penguins – and tourists.
Waitaki branch campaigned hard for a permanent DOC ranger to be based in Öamaru, which led to Dave Houston taking up the post. Speakers at public meetings included Sir Alan Mark, Tony Hocking, Fraser Ross, Chris Lalas and Graeme Loh. Field trips covered the Waitaki district, including Ahuriri, Öhau, Bobby’s Head and Macraes Flat. Popular trips also included annual pilgrimages to the nearest remnant forest at Trotters Gorge, and coastal highlights at Shag Rock and Katiki Point. In 1996, due to falling attendances and a worn-out committee, the branch went in to recess. Since last year the new committee has started looking at ways to protect biodiversity in the region and support Forest & Bird’s nationwide activities. “We are tentatively arranging to work on projects with the Waitaki District Council and DOC, so it is in the discussion stage,” says Zuni. “Local conservation issues are maintaining coastal bird habitat, the management of many endemic threatened flora and fauna and water quality.” The committee has also set up a Kiwi Conservation Club group, led by Chloe Searle.
1 Waitaki branch committee, from left, Ross Babington, Ian
Goldsmith, Zuni Steer, David McKenzie and Chloe Searle.
2 Waitaki branch secretary Chloe Searle and Mark Smith
battle boxthorn at Gards Rd, a newly acquired DOC reserve near Kurow.
At Cape Kidnappers. Photo: Lee Pritchard
Forest & Bird and Kiwi Conservation Club members on the way to Cape Kidnappers. Photos: Liz Carter
Forest & Bird
Gorse haven for wëtä North Taranaki branch members ventured into a gorseinfested reserve overrun by goats and cattle in February. Mähoenui Scientific Reserve, in the southern King Country, is an unlikely place to find an endangered native animal, but it is a sanctuary for Mähoenui giant wëtä. This wëtä species was thought extinct until 1962, when a population was discovered in the patch of Waikato gorse. The gorse, cattle and goats have created a safe spot for the wëtä, with the cattle making tracks and the goats nibbling the gorse into dense hedges. The wëtä live in the gorse, which is a fine fortress against the hedgehogs, possums, rats, cats or stoats that usually eat wëtä. In 1990 DOC bought 240 hectares of land to create the reserve for the wëtä, which are ranked as nationally endangered. Most Mähoenui wëtä (Deinacrida mähoenui) are dark brown but a third are yellow, and one female was found coloured half brown and half yellow. Females are larger
than males, weighing up to 19 grams (almost as heavy as an adult mouse), with males reaching 12 grams. Department of Conservation ranger Abigail Quinnell led the Forest & Bird group across fields, up to a ridge and into the reserve. “We just did not expect to see DOC positively encouraging goats and gorse in one of their reserves,” says Taranaki branch committee member Jackie Cockeram. Abigail provided thick suede welding gauntlets to help people parting the gorse bushes in search of wëtä. Sean Gardiner found two wëtä, and he carefully carried the large female to show the rest of the group. Abigail held a smaller male. “The brave and curious among us were allowed to hold the wëtä and have them climb all over us while the less brave watched from a little distance away or took photos,” Jackie says. “The female was a dark mahogany brown and did not seem too afraid of us. She simply wanted to find a shady spot on us. If we moved too quickly she raised up her rear legs in alarm. “Giant wëtä have no pincers, teeth or stingers so cannot hurt us, although they have little hooks on the ends of their legs and very long antennae, which really tickle on bare skin. The female is easily distinguishable from the male as, apart from being quite a bit larger, she also has a long curved spike protruding from the end of her abdomen called an ovipositor used for laying her eggs,” Jackie says. 1 Rory Gardiner with a Māhoenui giant wētā found during the
North Taranaki branch trip. Photos: Leigh Honnor
2 Gorse protects Māhoenui giant wētā from predators.
Tai Haruru Lodge
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Ruapehu Lodge Whakapapa Village, Tongariro National Park Sleeps 32 firstname.lastname@example.org 04 385 7374
Mangaräkau Swamp Field Centre North-west Nelson Sleeps 10 email@example.com 03 525 6031
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Piha, West Auckland Sleeps 6 firstname.lastname@example.org 09 812 8064
Waiheke Island Cottage Onetangi Sleeps 8 09 372 7662
William Hartree Memorial Lodge Near Patoka, Hawke’s Bay Sleeps 10 email@example.com 06 844 4651
Matiu/Somes Island house Wellington Harbour Sleeps 8 firstname.lastname@example.org 04 384 7770
Tautuku Forest Cabins Öwaka, Otago Sleeps 16 email@example.com 03 415 8024
Students turn scientists Forest & Bird members joined the Nina Valley EcoBlitz near Lewis Pass in the South Island in March. About 170 high school students from Canterbury and West Coast schools took part in the ecoblitz, at which new species of native invertebrates were almost certainly discovered. Supported by about 100 scientists, university students and adult volunteers, the students helped record plant, animal, insect, bird, reptile and mammal species in survey plots in the Nina Valley and Boyle River. Habitats included beech forest, grassland and shrubland, riparian zones and streambeds. Students and scientists went out at night listening for bats, spotting spiders and recording reptiles. Among the Forest & Bird members at the ecoblitz were Boyle Base stoat trapping and monitoring group member Jane Demeter and Canterbury Kiwi Conservation Club coordinator Eleanor Bissell. Eleanor says the event will influence some students in choosing a career. “For those who won’t be following science as a career path, the ecoblitz still raised environmental issues that every New Zealander needs to know and be concerned about. Giving nature a voice received a huge boost from this event.” The diversity of species found amazed Lincoln University ecologist Dr Jon Sullivan. “The university has been going up there to teach field ecology for the past three years,” he says. “We thought we knew the place pretty well, but this
large group of enthusiastic and talented youngsters found lots of things we’ve never seen.” Hurunui College, Lincoln University, the Department of Conservation and Hurunui District Council organised the event. Jon says students collected their observations using standard ecological sampling methods under the guidance of expert scientists so their data can be used to help monitor ecological changes in the mountain valley. Many rare and unusual species were found, including falcons, käkäriki, longfin eels, giant springtails, river spiders and velvet worms (peripatus) with purple feet. “Canterbury Museum’s invertebrate taxonomists tell us that there are undoubtedly several new species of native invertebrate amongst the students’ collections,” says Jon. ninavalleyecoblitz.com n Steve Attwood 1 Rowan McConish, left, and Ash Iro, from Christchurch Boys
High School check water invertebrates sampled from the Boyle River. Photo: Steve Attwood
2 A southern velvet worm. Photo: Bryce McQuillan 3 An elephant weevil (Rhyncodes ursus). Photo: Bryce
4 A giant springtail, or collembola. Photo: Bryce McQuillan
Forest & Bird
For the nature adventurer this summer... Whiteheads, or pōpokotea, are thriving in the Ark in the Park. Photo: David Brooks
Many hands make Ark work Whichever way you look at the figures around the Ark in the Park, they are impressive. The fenceless sanctuary covers about 2100 hectares of the Waitäkere Ranges, west of Auckland. It is surrounded by an 800-hectare privately owned buffer zone, in which residents conduct their own pest control. Seventy per cent of the rat tracking tunnels showed signs of rats before predator control in the Ark began. Now only five per cent of the tunnels in the Ark show any sign of the animals. The inroads into predator numbers have been made by the 4000-plus bait stations and more than 300 traps. They are maintained by 600 volunteers who put in 9000 hours every year. The forest beyond the Ark’s buffer zone is still plagued by predators and the Ark has no fence so it would be quickly overrun without the volunteers. A total of 453 whiteheads, or pöpokotea, have been released in the Ark, along with 83 North Island robins, or toutouwai, and 26 kökako. Three kökako chicks were born during the 2013-14 summer and unbanded chicks have been seen elsewhere in the Ark, which shows that unmonitored pairs are also breeding. Ark in the Park was kicked off in 2002 by Forest & Bird’s Waitäkere Branch, Forest & Bird’s national office, local iwi Te Kawerau a Maki and the then Auckland Regional Council. The Ark is now managed as a partnership between Forest & Bird and Auckland Council, supported by Te Kawerau a Maki. In February a renewed 10-year agreement was signed, which will enable the Ark to continue to provide a stronghold for threatened species well into the future.
Raffle raises $18,000 North Canterbury branch’s Help Nature raffle late last year raised $18,392. Half the funds will be spent on a major predator control project in the Kaimai-Mamaku Ranges. The other half will be spent in Canterbury on a project yet to be announced. Thanks to Joy Burt for organising the raffle and to everyone who supported the fundraiser. 52
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Our new KCC hat! Bright, fun and sun-smart these are great out-innature hats for our adventurers. There are two sizes. A small hat of 50cm (that can be tightened down to 46cm) and a slightly larger one for the young teenager of 58cm (that can be tightened down to 54cm). Check our online store https://secure.forestandbird.org.nz/shop/shop. asp or call 0800 200 064 to buy one. They’re $29.95 each incl. GST – and postage is an extra.
PEST CONTROL PRODUCTS
WIPEOUT: Possums, Rodents,
Standard & Mini Philproof Bait Stations & Timms Traps • Rodent Bait Stations and Block Baits • Rodent Snap Traps • Fenn Traps (MK4 & 6) • Trap Covers – Double or Single • Light-weight DOC 250 trap cover. Also available: Monitoring Tunnels & Bird Nesting Chambers
07 859 2943 021 270 5896 PO Box 4385 Hamilton 3247 WEB:
White Heron Sanctuary Tours
BIORESEARCHES CONSULTING BIOLOGISTS
Come with us, RAINFOREST, NATURE and JETBOATING TOURS, all year round. Viewing of nesting colony from September to March. Ph. 0800 52 34 56
For Stewart Island Accommodation in the Bush Rakiura Retreat Motels overlooking Braggs Bay/ Halfmoon Bay • Access to beach • Complimentary bikes • Warm & comfortable • Transfers & Professional guides available • Sleeps up to 24 Individuals & Groups welcome. Unit for 2 plus use of vehicle GREAT DEAL only $150 per night
Small Groups + Independent travellers CALL NOW FOR FREE 2014 BROCHURE Latin Link Adventure The South American Specialists 0800 528 465 / firstname.lastname@example.org
www.stewartislandmotels.com email@example.com • 03 2191096
Environmental Impact Studies Surveys of Marine, Freshwater & Terrestrial Habitats Pollution Investigations Resource Consent procedures Archaeological; Historic Places Appraisal firstname.lastname@example.org www.bioresearches.co.nz P.O Box 2828 Auckland PH: AUCKLAND 379 9417 Fax (09) 307 6409
MASIHAMBE AFRIKA TOURS Birds of South Africa 2015 An online gallery of original and reproduction antique maps and prints, featuring scenes of New Zealand, birds and botanical prints, perfect as gifts. We ship worldwide.
Ron and Edna Greenwood Environmental Trust The trust provides financial support for projects advancing the conservation and protection of New Zealand’s natural resources, particularly flora and fauna, marine life, geology, atmosphere and waters.
More information is available from the Trust, at: PO Box 10-359, Wellington
Keep your photos and videos safe for future generations Special offer for Forest & Bird members
18 Spectacular days of Birding & Wildlife • Guided by Martin Benadie Ornithologist & specialist guide • Places available strictly limited to 8 • Departs Johannesburg 9 Feb 2015 • Cost $6,225 pp twin share. Single Supp applies • Don’t miss out on this exclusive tour • Contact us for further details
New Zealand Birdsong Clock
Green Home and Lifestyle
New Improved, now in stock
Architecturally designed eco home, 175sqm on 5,500sqm, north facing, passive solar design, double glazing, grey/black water system, solar hot water, Pyroclassic woodburner with wetback. Large vegetable garden, shed, glass house, own water supply. Orchard, heritage varieties, citrus, pip, stone fruit, berries, grapes, nuts, olives, feijoas and kiwifruit. Two fenced paddocks. Ornamental native garden. 1km from the entrance to the Maungatautari Ecological Island, one of Australasia’s ‘Top 25’ ecological restoration projects, visit www.sanctuarymountain.co.nz. Central Waikato location. TradeMe ID DSI581. $449,000. Call 07 872 4744.
12 NZ Bird calls Auto off in the dark Wood surround with glass face 3xAAA batteries Price $89 inc GST and Postage
Send cheque and delivery details to Mercury Pots Plus PO Box 72042 Papakura 2244, Auckland Tel 09 298 0955 Fax 09 298 0950 email: email@example.com
Got R ats?
SAFE – Bait is safely contained and enclosed ECONOMIC – Grate system stops bait being carried away for storage
We’ve got a new solution for you.
SanDisk Memory Vault 8GB $99 $69 SanDisk Memory Vault 16GB $139 $99 To order, contact Lacklands Ltd 09 630 0753 or firstname.lastname@example.org
email@example.com Cell +64 02102781762 Telephone +0064 6 3570621 Check us out on: www.masihambeafrika.co.nz
FILL AND FORGET – requires minimal attention
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For more information contact 0800 665 337 or firstname.lastname@example.org DeSiGneD anD ManuFaCTureD in CHriSTCHurCH
Advertise to Forest & Bird readers here Please contact
Karen Condon PHONE 0275 420 338 EMAIL email@example.com Forest & Bird
Durvillaea antarctica from New Zealand Seaweeds: An illustrated guide
New Zealand Seaweeds: An illustrated guide
The Sixth Extinction: An unnatural history
By Wendy Nelson Te Papa Press, $79.99 Reviewed by Ann Graeme
By Elizabeth Kolbert Bloomsbury, $36.99 Reviewed by Marina Skinner
Seaweeds are the gardens of the sea. Like plants on land, seaweeds capture the sun’s energy by photosynthesis. Unlike most land plants, only a few are green and most are classified as brown or red, depending on their photosynthetic pigments. Seaweeds are algae, not flowering or cone-bearing plants. They are beautifully adapted to their wild, watery environment and there are more than 900 – that’s 900! – species around New Zealand. You can identify and learn about more than 250 species in this excellent guide. Wendy Nelson is our pre-eminent expert in seaweeds and her guide reflects the depth of her knowledge. Its great virtue is the combination of clear and succinct text complemented by photographs and drawings of each species. In the underwater photos, the seaweeds swirl in their natural environment. In the drawings and paintings you can pick up the details you can’t see in the photos. Altogether, this makes a beautiful and powerful tool for identification and especially so when the drawings and paintings are by Nancy Adams, our most talented botanical artist, While most of the book is devoted to the identification of the species, the introduction provides an interesting overview of seaweeds, what they are, where they live, how they cope in the raging sea and how they contribute to the vast ecosystem of the ocean. For the eagle-eyed walker on the beach, the curious children looking in rock pools or the snorkeller floating over the forests of kelp, here is the book for you. The only drawback, and one that is not easy to overcome, is that it isn’t printed on waterproof paper.
Elizabeth Kolbert gets her hands – and feet – dirty in the interests of research. She joins bat surveys down dangerous disused mine shafts. She does four-day hikes at 3600 metres in the Peruvian Andes. She swims in acidic waters off the Naples coast. And her lyrical writing takes the reader with her. Kolbert travels back in time, too, to the first of five massive extinction events, roughly 445 million years ago. Several species – among them great auks, ammonites and mastodons – help tell the stories of life and death on Earth. But her focus is the anthropocene – the age we live in right now – and the sixth massive extinction that humans are driving. The anthropocene is said to have arrived with the industrial revolution but Kolbert suggests an earlier starting point. “Though it might be nice to imagine there once was a time when man lived in harmony with nature, it’s not clear that he ever really did.” Climate change is one of the most significant components of the mass extinction humans are responsible for but there are others. Kolbert explores the impact of invasive species around the globe and notes that humans are probably the most dangerously invasive of all species. Wherever we landed, extinctions of megafauna quickly followed – mastodons in North America, massive marsupials in Australia, the moa in Aotearoa. Kolbert is an American journalist, and she masterfully translates complex science for lay readers. She brings to life scientific discoveries through her many excursions. This is a compelling story, and we determine whether the ending is happy or not.
| Forest & Bird
Parting shot C
hris Chadwick photographed these fledgling ruru, or moreporks, at Forest & Bird’s Ark in the Park in the Waitäkere Ranges. Chris is a volunteer at the Ark and he was off track checking a bait line. “I saw one of the parents, very briefly, flying across low nearby and then very fortuitously spotted these two fledglings sitting up on a branch nearby,” Chris says. “With quite overcast conditions and the birds sitting not too high up there was not as much back light as one often gets with these up in the trees shots.” Chris used a Panasonic DMC FZ200 camera.
If you are a Forest & Bird member and you have a stunning photo that showcases New Zealand’s special native plants or animals, it could be the next Parting Shot. Each published Parting Shot photo will receive a GorillaPod JGP3 worth $159.95. The GorillaPod is a portable, packable heavy-duty tripod that keeps your camera equipment steady, no matter where you might be.
Please send a low-res digital file and brief details about your photo to Marina Skinner at firstname.lastname@example.org Winners will be asked for higher-resolution files.
With each of our stores stocking over 7500 products from 150 different suppliers, we are able to offer the best performers in each category. We present cutting edge technology from leading international manufacturers such as Arcâ€™teryx, Black Diamond, Exped, Osprey, Outdoor Research and The North Face. Every item has undergone a selection process during which the product has proven itself to be a top contender in its category.
Exped Mira II Tent
Floor Area - 2.75m2 (220cm x 125cm)
The Mira II is the two person option in Exped's Mira series of free standing lightweight tents. Quick to set up with its continuous pole sleeves, it has a cross ridge pole and an arch pole at the head end to provide stability and plenty of headroom for two. The canopy can be used by itself or with the fly which is easily attached with quick release buckles, or just use the fly with the separately sold footprint for ultralight trips. Gear loops and pockets provide organisation inside and multiple stake out points outside give stability during rough weather.
Vestibule Area - 1.3m2 (2 x 0.65m2)
The high ridge pole allows comfortable sitting for two people. The arch pole at the head end of the canopy creates additional head room and adds stability. Each of you has your own door and vestibule. The cross ridge pole protects the canopy from rain even with open doors. The pole sleeves on the canopy are continuous and sealed at one end. This allows quick setup and teardown without the need to walk around the tent.
Maximum Inner Height - 110cm Fly Material - 30D ripstop-nylon, silicone-PU coated, factory seam taped Canopy Material - UV-resistant, flame retardant ripstop polyester Floor Material - 70D PU-coated, taffeta nylon (5000mm water column) Poles - 3 x DAC Featherlight NSL 8.5 and 9mm TH72M aircraft grade aluminium Average Minimum Weight - 1.8kg Full Packaged Weight - 2kg Packed Size â€“ 42cm x 15cm RRP $599
QUEEN STREET NEW MARKET SYLVIA PARK ALBANY MEGA-CENTRE TAURANGA HAMILTON PALMERSTON NORTH WELLINGTON TOWER JUNCTION DUNEDIN
Forest & Bird is New Zealand’s leading independent conservation organisation protecting and restoring our wildlife and wild places.
Published on May 15, 2014
Forest & Bird is New Zealand’s leading independent conservation organisation protecting and restoring our wildlife and wild places.