Wenderholm was the first regional park of Auckland opened in 1965. It is located on a coastal peninsula between the two rivers Waiwera and Puhoi. It is now maintained by Auckland regional council and this park is open for recreational activities. Maungatauhoro a coastal forest is likely to have found some native bird species due to ecological restoration. Ecological restoration is an intensional activity in recovering the ecosystem
The protection of this forest ecosystem was carried out by restoration procedures such as livestock fencing, re-vegetation, pest and weed control & re-introduction of the local extinct bird species. The coastal forest is fenced to prevent the entry of livestock. Re-vegetation helps in the soil conservation, Erosion control, Preservation of bush remnants. Important plantations like kanuka (Kunzea ericoides, manuka (Leptospermum scoparium) can be beneficial by providing linkages to the surrounding forest remnants. Creation of shrub lands is a valuable part of landscape. These act as a nursery for creating a forest. Pest and weed management plan played a major role in increasing the diversity of insects by reducing the mammals. Invasive species like Rats (Rattus rattus and R. norvegicus) and Possums (Trichosurus vulpecula) are reduced considerably thus allowing to increase the diversity of many bird species like North island robin (Petroica australis longipes), kereru (Hemiphaga novaeseelandiae). Kereru was the traditional food of maori and had a very low productivity.
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The recovery of fauna and flora which was extinct is possible due to the development of forest health and more abundance of fauna. The most important case in this park was the re-introduction of north island robin in 1999 which was extinct for a long time. Since then it has had high reproduction rates and survival. This was a highly successful case and now there are more than 200 north island robin species found. But still a several strong populations are needed for the complete restoration of north island robin.
The objectives of this essay is to analyse the management plan of the wenderholm park and to give some important feed backs which would help in the betterment of the park.
Wenderholm was the first regional park found in Auckland. It is located between the Waiwera and Puhoi Rivers (1). It lies on a coastal peninsula (134 ha, 36'33'S, 174'43'E) about 45kms north of Auckland and is surrounded by two tidal estuaries made of unconsolidated Holocene sediments out of which one is bordered by wetlands and pasturelands (2). It has a history of Maori occupation which dates back to thousands of years ago and lasted till the late 19th century but also its history is composed of isolations from migrations, conquests and occupation by different groups (3). This park is popular for recreational activities like kayaking and swimming and also supports bush walking. Maungatauhoro (mountains with the eroding cliffs) is a coastal forest which is vital for the recovery of many native and rare birds like Kereru (native pigeon), Tui. Kukupa (wood pigeons) and also small north island robin (toutowai) which has been successfully breeding in the park (4). This breeding and protection of the rare birds is possible majorly because of the various pest control methods deployed in this region (4). Other bird species like fern bird (Bowdleria punctata) and branded rail (Rallus philippensis) are found making home on the puhoi estuary and Kookabura which was said to be in Kawau Island in the yesteryears are still seen in the Wenderholm park (1). So far 17 native species of birds have been recorded in the park (5). There are some uncommon species found as well, like the New Zealand dotterel, blue reef heron. Apart from the native bird species there are numerous plantations.
There were exotic trees planted as early as 1860s and other important trees were karaka, puriri, white maire tawaroa. Apart from these there are other species like cauasian, fir, coral, walnut & macrocarpa trees found around the park (5). There is a wide variety of cultural heritage in the park but it's been reducing due to few reasons. The major reason being the predation of native bird species. Even certain factors like colouration and adaptation was not enough for the birds to be protected as they were hunted upon by the predators (6). The major predators are Norway rat, cat, possum, weasel, stoat ship rat and rat. They not only threaten the endangered bird species but also the natural conservation of the park. A successful management plan helps in not only the restoration of the park but also helps in reduction of predation at nests, increasing the nesting success and thus increasing the breeding population.
Analysis and critique of wenderholm management plan:
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'Restoration is the act of returning an ecosystem to a closer approximation of its conditions prior to disturbance' (7). Wenderholm is a 'mainland' site helps in the restoration of communities absent in the islands. The experience gained in the last two decades for the removal of exotic mammals from the site has helped in maintain the biodiversity (2). There is a wide spectrum of restoration plans which are carried out in the Wenderholm Park. They are
Fencing of bush areas:
It was fenced with 'wooden post' and 'seven wire farm livestock fences' to keep stock out in order to prevent trampling of seeds, causing damage to tree bark and roots.
It is the action of replanting the soil of disturbed land. Re-vegetation is important for following reasons- Conservation, Erosion control, Preservation of bush remnants & Encouraging native birds (10). Restoring wetlands is a key plan as it is the most productive natural area in the world. These can serve in many ways by providing health economic and aesthetic benefits (9)
Wenderholm has many important plantations. There were successional species like manuka, kanuka, flax which were planted at the park. There was successful creation of shrub lands at wenderholm due to reforestation. Shrub lands occur naturally or due to human activity. These are a valuable part of a landscape. These hold a rich mix of native plants and animals. These act as a nursery for regenerating forest (11). These form habitats for small bush birds, especially banded dotterels have their nesting habitat on these open shrub lands. These also provide berries and fruits which feeds many birds (13).
In spite of this importance there is no protection of these shrub lands and they are being cleared for pasture or forestry. So steps should be taken to preserve these shrub lands.
Pest and weed control programme:
It helps in the reduction of invasive species especially mammals. Wenderholm was known to be an ideal site for mammals pest control because it was partly separated from the surrounding highway which lowers the reinvasion and also because it is a peninsula (2). The major threat and cause for the extinction of the native birds are because of the invasive species.
They are Possum, cat, weasel, stoat, Norway rat, ship rat & rat. These mainly target the invertebrates, fruits & seeds and are responsible for the decline of the native bird species. There were different entrapment methods and the common methods which were followed especially in the case of rats and possums were snap-back trapping and foot print tracking (12). But since these methods were time consuming, other methods like bait interference methods were followed with 'wax block baits' which was helpful in differentiating the individual species based on their bite marks Once the pest control methods began there was a considerable decrease in the invasive species. This helps in the control of predation of eggs, chicks and also adults, it increases the availability of fruits, flowers on which the birds feed on. These actions are mainly carried out for the restoration of native and endangered species. This helps in increasing and keeping up the biodiversity.
An example for this is Kereru (NZ pigeon). It was a legally protected species and was the traditional food of Maori. It generally feeds on fruits and has a very low productivity. The population was declining because of the attacks of the invasive mammals especially ship rats. Once the pest control was carried out there was prevention of nest predation and broken eggs, and the species started to survive more.
However these pest control management methods are reducing invasive species but the other impacts of this are not known clearly. The management is mostly focussing on few species but it is also necessary to determine whether other species like fungi, insects (invasive wasps) and plantations are affected because of this weed and pest management.
Reintroducing extinct species:
One of the key management practises followed in the Wenderholm Park was the re-introduction of extinct species which disappeared decades ago. Improved forest health and pest control program helped in reviving the extinct flora and fauna. North island robin was translocated from Tiritiri Matangi Island to wenderholm and the site was located near sea-ward end of the reserve to keep the birds in the area that could be managed (2). This was a huge success and now a small population of robin exists in wenderholm. It has survived well in this park when compared to other two mainlands. The main reason for the survival is because of the reduction in nest predation by rats and possum indicating a good pest control methods were followed. There was a high rate of disepersal found for the island robins as a result of development of forest linkages through the landscapes. But still a several strong populations are needed for the complete restoration and establishment of north island robin.
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Reforestation should be combined with the weed control because species like kanuka (fast growing canopy-forming) itself can act as a weed control which would be cost effective and also easy to grow.
There is an uncertainty in the document to be looked upon as to who is in charge to provide the resources to carry out the ecological restoration plan. It is assumed that resources would be from the major stake holders but it is not clearly quoted. As huge money and resources are involved it's better to have clear policies. The stake holders are the tangata whenua, Auckland regional council & dept. of conservation.
The information on how the restoration plan is monitored in the Wenderholm Park and how it is carried out is uncertain. Regional park management plan [RPMP] has stated the monitoring methods and its elements but the management has not given the necessary details of how all the activities are carried out. So it is therefore recommended to simplify how the restoration activities are monitored now and in the future.