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

Gordon Campbell:
On The Last Rites For The TPP

The Trans Pacific Partnership trade deal is one of those litmus issues that has always had more to do with one’s place on the political spectrum than with any imminent reality.

To date, the Greens have opposed (a) a wide range of the leaked content of the TPP (b) the secretive way it has been negotiated and (c) the undemocratic way in which any final document would be ratified. Labour has shared some of those concerns, but while remaining generally supportive of the deal itself.

National has, for its part, been very enthusiastic about the TPP, while still giving assurances about Pharmac being protected... For the TPP’s friends and foes alike though, the end now seems nigh. More>>

 
 

Gordon Campbell: On The Farcical Elevation Of David Seymour

With the election won, it’s time to find jobs for the boy. David Seymour is the Act Party’s latest scrounger to be rewarded by the National Party, and not only with a seat in Parliament. More>>

ALSO:

As Key Mulls Joining ISIS Fighting: McCully Speech To UN Backs Security Council Bid

It is an honour to address you today on behalf of the Prime Minister and Government of New Zealand. Our General Election took place last week - our Prime Minister Rt Hon John Key is engaged in forming a government and that is why he is unable to be here in New York... More>>

ALSO:

Labour: Cunliffe Triggers Party Wide Leadership Contest

David Cunliffe has resigned as Labour Leader, but says he will seek re-election... If there is any contest the election will have to go through a process involving the party membership and union affiliates. More>>

ALSO:

Flyover Appeal: Progress And Certainty, Or Confusion And More Delays?

Lindsay Shelton: The Transport Agency, embarrassed by the rejection of its flyover alongside the Basin Reserve, says it’s appealing because the decision could “constrain progress.” Yet for most clear-sighted Wellingtonians a 300-metre-long concrete structure above Kent and Cambridge Terraces would in no way be seen as progress… More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On Cunliffe’s Last Stand

Right now, embattled Labour leader David Cunliffe has three options. None of them are particularly attractive for him personally, or for the Labour Party... More>>

ALSO:

Key Seeking 'New Ideas': Look To Children’s Commissioner On Poverty - Greens

John Key should not reinvent the wheel when it comes to ideas for tackling child poverty, and instead look to the recommendations of the Children’s Commissioner’s Expert Group on Child Poverty, Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei says. More>>

ALSO:

'Safe To Re-Enter' - OIA Docs: Safety Is Absolute Priority At Pike River Mine

“We understand that the time it is taking to complete our evaluation of the risks is frustrating for the family members and we are trying to complete this work as quickly as we can,” Ms Dunphy says. “It is Solid Energy’s responsibility to make this decision and we will do so, once we have all the information required to make a fully-informed decision.” More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 

LATEST HEADLINES

 
 
 
 
More RSS  RSS
 
 
 
 
Regional
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news