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DOC supports fight to save unique bushland

A group of Central Hawke’s Bay residents is fighting to save a rare type of native forest, the only one of its kind in the region.

For almost two decades, the landowners, who have recently formed the Gwavas Charitable Trust for the Puahanui Bush, have been working to eradicate weeds from the 130-hectare private forest – which is home to trees such as rimu, totara and mataī.

The Trust has been given a grant from the Department of Conservation (DOC) Community Fund to help with this work.

The Fund was set up in 2014 to distribute $26 million over four years to grassroot groups, such as the Trust, working on conservation projects in their local communities.

“For decades this piece of bushland has been strangled by common ivy, with the weed spreading to two thirds of the forest,” says project manager Kay Griffiths. “In some places there were at least seven native species that just stopped growing.”

“Today, while there are still small bits of ivy in the bush, there is nowhere near as much as there used to be, but it has taken a long time to get the levels down.”

Ms Griffiths says right now the Trust is in the maintenance phase of the weed control programme, which will take a long time because it’s not known how long the seeds are viable for.

“The funding from DOC will help us to target these plants and maintain what we have done in the past.”

She says the local landowners have also helped to control the weed by creating a buffer zone on their properties.

“The plan now is to allow the forest to regenerate, which previously the ivy was preventing it from doing,” says Ms Griffiths.

What makes this bushland even more unusual is that it is privately owned, located behind the Gwavas Garden property in Tikokino. It has been kept intact by the same family which has owned the property for more than a century.

“It is amazing that this forest exists and that it wasn’t levelled to make way for more farmland,” says Ms Griffiths.

She says this is one of several reasons this particular piece of bush is so important to the Hawke’s Bay region.

“In a recent ecosystem mapping and prioritisation exercise, it ranked in the top 10 per cent of ecosystems within Hawke’s Bay,” she says.

“This is why we are working so hard to preserve it.”

– Ends –

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