A funding boost has given a Central North Island project a new way to protect the threatened flora species in their area. Becky O’Sullivan tells the story…
Like any project, there are always a few tweaks to the plan as we make our way through it. These may be small changes like heading into the field at a different time or day, or they could be quite big, like a complete change of pest control methods to protect a threatened area.
The latter is what happened with our plans to protect the threatened plant species in Paengaroa, when an extra $30,000 supercharged our protection project.
Paengaroa is a unique, tiny reserve located between Taihape and Waiouru in the Central North Island. It is the only mainland island (a land-locked area with mammalian pest control) in New Zealand set up for its threatened plants species.
Every year it is hit by large amounts of snow/wind/all-round bad weather but, despite this, it still punches higher than its weight in threatened species numbers.
A precious few specimens of rare Olearia gardneri (tree daisy), a nationally critical species, call this temperamental habitat home.
These vulnerable plant species flourish when protected from predation by possums and rats. The bonus to implementing any pest control in an area however is that when you focus on the big three – possums, rats and stoats – the whole ecosystem benefits. So, by protecting our threatened flora, we are protecting our birds and reptiles as well.
Our issue in Paengaroa however was the bait station network in the reserve was old and in need of replacing. As it was, it was not giving adequate protection to any species in the reserve.
This gave us the opportunity to look at what pest control methods were available and appropriate for the reserve with the resourcing we had. The dream was to have self-resetting Goodnature traps throughout the reserve, however, that was out of our budget.
What we decided on was to deconstruct the old infrastructure, install new marked lines for future stations and use Feratox in the short term to protect the flora species from possums. With 10 of my colleagues from Turangi, we sprang into action and have been busy since May of 2017 deconstructing the stations and marking the new networks.
The undergrowth was thick and the Bush Lawyer (Rubus cissoides/ Tātaramoa) was ever present but it was all worth it by the end of Summer 2017/18 when we had completed the work. As we were gearing up to apply Feratox to the reserve in February of 2018, some new funding became available and opened up the possibility of having our dream – the Goodnature traps – come true.
With an extra $30,000 we were able to install A12 (possum) and A24 (rat and stoat) traps in the reserve, and later that month we returned to Paengaroa, not with our original plan but with a new one – to install the first of the Goodnature traps.
With the help of a contractor we were able to complete the reserve in record time and carry on protecting the precious flora species that are so vulnerable to possum and rat predation.
Changing the original plan was a great thing for Paengaroa. It now is benefiting from extensive pest control throughout its area and the precious taonga species that call it home are protected.