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“Nelson Forests’ staff and contractors look forward to the event each year, with the workers involved volunteering to be part of the day, running activities and acting as guides for each school group as well as cooking sausages and preparing hot chocolate for the children.” It’s a popular event, not just with the children. Barry Walsh has retired from forestry work, but comes back each year for the planting. He says the children do well with their planting – they are put into groups of three and are given 10 seedlings to plant in a set area.

“They take their time with it, but they make a good job … they all get into it.” The children plant a certain area, and then contractors come in to finish planting the full area. In 12 months’ time, the seedlings will have grown as high as the children are tall, Barry Walsh says.

Educational experience

Another retired forestry worker who keeps coming back is Rex Marshall. He takes the children through a block of protected indigenous trees within the forest, and teaches them about different plants, insects, and birds in the area.

His tour ends with the children nibbling on a horopito leaf, the unexpected spiciness of that remaining in the children’s memory of the day. The third activity takes the children to a block of trees that will be harvested in coming weeks. There, they count and measure different trees, noting what the trunks are like and calculating which trees are more valuable than others. After watching Brightwater School Year 6 students take part in the day, it’s easy to see why they recommend it to others. From that, you could anticipate that it will be a popular event for years to come.

Our beautiful wild kea need our help BY SANDRINE MARRASSÉ | PHOTOGRAPHY NELSON FORESTS AND MECHANISED CABLE HARVESTING (MCH)

S

eeing kea in the wild is a really special experience. They are beautiful birds; majestic yet playful, sociable and highly intelligent. As they fly, we’re treated to the beautiful blue and green markings that colour their wings and tail tip, and the stunning flash of vivid orange of their underwing. Named by Māori for the sound of its call, the kea is endemic to Aotearoa’s South Island and is the world’s only mountain parrot. Kea have a number of memorable behaviour traits and most of us will readily recall the confident strut of the mischievous extrovert, seemingly tame in its demeanour, yet ready and willing to pose for that perfect Instagram photo. Looking a little deeper into the life of kea, and coming to understand that the

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nationally endangered birds are ground nesters, reveals more about these beautiful parrots. “They’re on the ground and really vulnerable,” says Andrea Goodman, the Kea Conservation Trust’s Kea Conflict Management and Community Engagement Coordinator. “The female kea sits there quite quiet, just like a chicken. She’s not a gregarious clown that’s all bolshy and strong.” The highly intelligent and social birds have an unusual tendency to seek out people and property. This leads to what the Kea Conservation Trust refers to as conflict. Kea are naturally attracted to human activity, particularly the buzz and action of working plantation forestry sites. Nelson Forests sees its relationship with the Kea Conservation Trust as a long-term and vitally important one. They have worked together since 2014 to protect kea, at the same time endeavouring to ensure worker safety. Kea can be distracting and destructive on a worksite, so operating in kea-populated areas can be challenging. It’s important to both organisations to understand how any human–kea conflict can be managed in a way that is mutually beneficial. “Like the kiwi, kea are an iconic New Zealand species,” says Heather Arnold, Nelson Forests’ Environmental Planner. “However, most people don’t realise that there are fewer than 5000 kea left, compared with 68,000 kiwi.” Starting this year, Nelson Forests is providing funding to the Trust as part of a

five-year programme to help support kea conservation. The funding will support the Conflict Transformation Programme, a citizen science research programme that will strive to establish how important plantation forestry is to kea by using kea sightings and data from Nelson Forests’ staff and contractors to contribute to the project, and a third research programme that supports kea in situ. “We are in a stage of transitioning from managing human–kea conflict and trying to come up with avoidance tactics, to being a lot more proactive about trying to understand how important plantation forestry is for kea survival and habitat, and what we can do to create a good balance between our achieving productive land use, and helping the kea thrive in their habitat for the long term,” says Heather.

Vital funding

Part of the Nelson Forests funding will go towards human–kea conflict transformation work that is currently

Profile for WildTomato

WildTomato November 2019  

Digital Detoxing | Bathroom Ideas | Nelson Fire Book | Summer Sailing | Mercedes GLE | Abel Tasman Adventure | Dust & Gold | Hydrangeas | Fl...

WildTomato November 2019  

Digital Detoxing | Bathroom Ideas | Nelson Fire Book | Summer Sailing | Mercedes GLE | Abel Tasman Adventure | Dust & Gold | Hydrangeas | Fl...