Local Govt | National News Video | Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Search

 


Cliff scramble gives critically rare plant shot at survival

26 February 2013

Cliff scramble gives critically rare plant a shot at survival

Conservationists boost national population by a third in a single day

Conservationists have boosted by a third the number of endangered Kakabeak plants known to exist in the wild in New Zealand. Staff at the Forest Lifeforce Restoration (FLR) Trust used a helicopter and abseiled down cliffs to dig 35 of the plants with the spectacular curved, crimson flowers into bluffs in the Te Urewera National Park, overlooking the Maungataniwha Native Forest in inland Hawke’s Bay.

Until now, just 110 Kakabeak (ngutukākā in te reo) plants were known to exist in the wild. Five of those are on the Waiau Bluffs where they have been joined by the 35 transplants, protected from predatory browsers by sheer rock faces and fences erected by the Trust.

“This is probably one of the more dramatic replants at a wild site attempted for the species,” said Don McLean, head of the Kakabeak Recovery Team at the Department of Conservation (DOC). “New methods of establishing Kakabeak in the wild are vital if we’re to successfully place the plants beyond the reach of browsers. The ultimate long-term aim is really to get plants established on sites where they can mature and reproduce in relative safety.”

The 35 plants were propagated at Plant Hawke’s Bay Nursery in Napier from cuttings and seed taken by the Trust, under Department of Conservation (DOC) supervision, from a selection of wild Kakabeak across the region.

They were grown to about 300mm in height before being given a ‘haircut’ to promote root growth, then flown to the transplant site where they were lowered in fish bins with a long strop to Trust staff who had abseiled to a scree slope about 150 metres above the Waiau Gorge.

“It was pretty precarious mission,” said FLR Trust forest manager Pete Shaw. “The chopper was being buffeted by strong winds and we were inching along this scree above some fairly significant drops, digging holes to put the plants into.”

The Kakabeak were planted in three lots about 20 metres apart, in a varied genetic mix.

“We know it’s a good place for them,” Shaw said. “They’re in with the five original plants and the terrain, along with the new fences we’ve installed, will ensure they’re not picked off by predatory browsers like deer.”

He hopes there will be further natural regeneration outside the protected area when the new plants seed in October this year.

The FLR Trust has already established two Kakabeak seed orchards in protected enclosures at its property in the Maungataniwha Native Forest. Shaw hopes the rejuvenated population on the Waiau Bluffs will provide a third source of seed for further propagation and transplantation.

Trust staff are in the process of perfecting a groundbreaking technique to propagate the plants by blasting seeds from a shotgun into likely nursery sites in the wild.

Staffer Barry Crene developed the technique using re-loaded shotgun shells packed with regular shotgun pellets, a pulp medium and Kakabeak seed. The shells were then discharged into soil from a range of 20 metres, about the distance a helicopter might have to hover from likely nursery sites in the wild.

As with the Waiau Bluffs, such sites are frequently patches of topsoil on bluffs or cliff faces that are as inaccessible to humans as they are to browsers. Helicopters are often the only way to reach them.

This innovation will create the potential for an aerial propagation effort on a scale that hasn’t yet been possible.

“Anything that helps us expand the population of this spectacular plant without having to dangle 150 metres above a rocky river bed has to be a good thing,” Shaw said.

About the Forest Lifeforce Restoration Trust

The Forest Lifeforce Restoration Trust was established in 2006 to provide direction and funding for the restoration of threatened species of fauna and flora, and to restore the ngahere mauri (forest lifeforce) in native forests within the Central North Island owned by businessman Simon Hall, executive Chairman of food manufacturer Tasti Foods and the driving force behind the Trust.

It runs eight main regeneration and restoration projects, involving native New Zealand flora and fauna, on three properties in the central North Island. It also owns a property in the South Island’s Fiordland National Park.

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Patience: Drive Safe

Be patient before passing is the AA's message for drivers this Labour weekend.

"People taking crazy risks to get past other vehicles is one of the most dangerous things on the road,” says AA spokesperson Dylan Thomsen.

“The weather is looking good for the long weekend so the roads will be busy. Unfortunately, that also increases the chances of people getting frustrated and trying a risky passing manoeuvre. When they get past, there will probably be more traffic up ahead anyway so it won’t get people there faster.” More>>

 
 

Parliament Today:

Employment Relations Bill: Govt Strains To Get Tea Break Law Through

The Government has been left with egg on its face - failing to get its much-vaunted, but hugely unpopular, meal break law passed in the first week of its new term, Labour spokesperson on Labour Issues Andrew Little says. More>>

ALSO:

Guns: Police Association Call To Arm Police Full Time

"The new minister gave his view, that Police do not need to be armed, while standing on the forecourt of parliament. The dark irony was that the interview followed immediately after breaking news of a gunman running amok in the Canadian parliament in Ottawa..." More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On The Tokenism Of New Zealand's Role Against Islamic State

Our contribution against IS will be to send SAS forces to train the Iraqis? That’s like offering trainers to General Custer just as the 7th cavalry reached the Little Big Horn. More>>

ALSO:

Scoop Business: Shell And Todd Caught Drilling Without Approval

Multi-national oil company Shell’s New Zealand arm and local energy giant Todd Energy have breached the new law governing New Zealand’s Exclusive Economic Zone, the Environmental Protection Authority says in an Oct. 10 document released by the Green Party. More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On Pharmac, Gough Whitlam And Sleater-Kinney

We’re not at the outset of these negotiations. The outset was six years ago, and negotiators were hoping to have some sort of ‘framework’ deal finished in time for the APEC meeting in a few weeks’ time. These ‘extreme’ positions are what we’ve reached near the intended end of the negotiations… More>>

ALSO:

PM Of Many Hats: Questions, No Answers On Whale Oil

Dr RUSSEL NORMAN (Co-Leader – Green) to the Prime Minister: How many times since November 2008 has he spoken with blogger Cameron Slater on the phone and how many times, if any, has he texted him?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY (Prime Minister): None in my capacity as Prime Minister. More>>

ALSO:

Aussie Investigation Dropped: Call On Minister McCully To Pursue The Case Of Balibo Five

West Papua Action is deeply concerned at the lack of any clear outcome from the Australian Federal Police inquiry into the 1975 deaths of the ‘Balibo Five’ including NZ journalist Gary Cunningham. More>>

ALSO:

'Feed The Kids' Bill: Metiria Turei To Lead Fight On Feeding Hungry Children

Green Party Co-leader Metiria Turei is urging all political parties to support the Feed the Kids Bill which she inherited today from Mana leader Hone Harawira. More>>

ALSO:

Parliament Today: State Opening Of Parliament

The House sat at 10.30am on Tuesday before MPs were summoned to hear the Speech from the Throne in the Legislative Council Chamber. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 

LATEST HEADLINES

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Regional
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news