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A window into bygone biodiversity

29 April 2021   /   News & reports

For the last 19 years, Whakaangi Landcare Trust has been delivering conservation projects to help regenerate native ecosystems in the far north, on the Hihi Peninsula in Doubtless Bay. A recent grant from Foundation North will enable the Trust to run their pest-control trapping programme across their 2,400 hectare of forest land.

The Whakaangi forest has many areas of untouched original bush and is home to many native tree species. Bruce Jarvis, Treasurer of Whakaangi Landcare Trust, says that Whakaangi’s botanical diversity is significant, and by reducing pests such as possums, rats and stoats, there is an immediate benefit to native flora and fauna.

“The botanical diversity is unique because the original forest has grown in size, and the areas that were retired from farming 50 years ago have now returned to forest,” says Bruce. “The peninsular contains flora and fauna representative of the natural environment of Northland prior to land being cleared for pasture, forestry or settlement.” Bruce believes Whakaangi offers a “window in time” into the rich, natural biodiversity which would have been widespread in Northland.

Whakaangi contains the northernmost population of North Island brown kiwi, and numbers have risen since the Trust began its trapping programme, alongside an increase in other native birds. However, Bruce says it is not just birdlife that have benefited from this work.

“The flora from huge kauri, rimu, and pohutakawa, to small native rare ferns, have also recovered in spectacular fashion and growth rates,” said Bruce. “This has a flow on effect of improved air quality and enhanced experience for communities who live on or access the peninsular.”

“The Hihi Residents and Ratepayers Association and greater Hihi community have noticed an improvement in habitat restoration since the trust embarked on this work, which without the support from Foundation North wouldn’t be possible.”