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Sampling shows beech seeding widespread

Sampling shows beech seeding widespread

Beech Shooting

Results from beech forest sampling across the South Island confirm a widespread seeding event is underway, Department of Conservation scientists say.

Over the past two months, seed on beech trees has been measured at 23 sites from north-west Nelson to Fiordland by shooting branches from trees to get an early indication of likely autumn seed fall.

DOC scientist Graeme Elliott says the seed shooting results confirm the beech mast is proving to be a widespread event, as initially predicted from extensive spring flowering.

Dr Elliott says the amount of seed being produced varies in different areas from very heavy to more moderate but that virtually all forests sampled are
seeding this year in what is looking like a 10-20 year event.

“The key issue is that this is widespread seeding and looks set to fuel an explosion in forest predators like rats and stoats in a large number of places.”

“With the seed fall now well underway it’s expected rodent numbers will begin to increase towards a peak in the coming summer when stoat numbers will also explode.”

Dr Elliott says field teams will be closely monitoring rat and stoat numbers over the next few months for early signs of rising numbers.

The Department of Conservation says plans to counter the expected rising predator numbers are already well underway.

The Battle for our Birds pest control response—announced by the Minister of Conservation in January—aims to protect vulnerable native bird, bat and snail species with aerial 1080 and ground-based pest control operations in multiple beech forest areas the length of the South Island.

DOC field staff are monitoring seed fall and rodent and stoat numbers in these
areas and consulting with affected communities. This information will inform decisions about the pest control response in the coming months including exact operational areas, timing and mix of pest control tools.


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