Are our native trees adding to or reducing New Zealand’s carbon emissions? That’s the question Rotorua scientists are hoping to answer with one of their current research projects.
Two projects investigating native trees and carbon emissions are underway at Ensis, the unincorporated joint venture between Crown Research Institute Scion in Rotorua, and Australia’s CSIRO.
Dr Peter Beets, senior scientist at Ensis, is leading a research programme looking at developing tools to predict native tree carbon emissions. “Our aim is to work out the amount of carbon that is being absorbed by living trees and the amount of carbon that is being released when trees die and decay.
“We hope to find out if native trees actually reduce the country’s overall emissions at all, or if the emissions the trees make just cancels any benefit,” Dr Beets says. more
A new family of indigenous New Zealand birds has been created after a crucial discovery aided by the curator of Auckland Museum.
Curator Dr Brian Gill and an international team of scientists have discovered that the stitchbird or “hihi” belongs to a family of its own and has no close relatives.
For years it was widely held that the stitchbird was part of the tui and bellbird family of honeyeaters.
It was given the name Notiomystis cincta when discovered in 1908, derived from Greek words meaning “southern mystery” because even then it was thought a somewhat strange little bird.
Now the mystery has been solved after the team comprising molecular biologists and museum staff from the United States, Australia and New Zealand have confirmed the stitchbird has no close relatives and is actually in a family of its own.
There were thought to be only three surviving families of endemic New Zealand birds (birds only found here): kiwi (Apterygidae), New Zealand wrens (Acanthisittidae) and New Zealand wattlebirds (Callaeidae).
The Department of Conservation is to eradicate mice on three Abel Tasman National Park islands so they can become pest-free sanctuaries for native species. DOC Motueka area manager Colin Wishart said mice were currently the only mammalian pests on Adele, Fisherman’s and Tonga islands and their removal would enhance the islands’ native vegetation and wildlife.Bird species which would benefit from the eradication of mice include kereru, grey warblers, silvereyes, fantails and bellbirds.Monitoring would take place after the operation to check for signs of mice, Mr Wishart said.
It takes two years of monitoring without sign of rodents before successful eradication can be confirmed. more
A marine mammal sanctuary is our last chance to save Maui’s dolphins from extinction, Forest & Bird says.
Forest & Bird today (World Oceans Day) announced its proposal for a marine mammal sanctuary off the north-west coast of the North Island to protect the critically endangered dolphins.
Forest & Bird Conservation Advocate Kirstie Knowles says a marine mammal sanctuary is the only measure that can protect Maui’s dolphins from all known threats.
“If we don’t act urgently there is a very real chance that Maui’s dolphin will soon become extinct. A marine mammal sanctuary is our only hope of saving the world’s rarest marine dolphin from extinction.”
Maui’s dolphin, the North Island sub-species of Hector’s dolphin, is listed as critically endangered on the World Conservation Union (IUCN) Red List of species at risk of extinction, and just 111 individuals remain.
Wellington’s kaka population is set to be three birds better off from Monday 11 June, when kaka chicks bred at Wellington Zoo are released at Karori Sanctuary.
Effectively extinct in Wellington since the early 1900s, the gregarious and highly intelligent kaka has made a remarkable comeback since eleven birds were released into the Sanctuary between 2002 and 2004. The population now stands at over 70, and the birds are regularly seen in local gardens across the city. The introduction of Zoo-bred birds to the Sanctuary population will help to ensure the genetic diversity of this iconic species in Wellington.
“The Karori Sanctuary is perfectly positioned to showcase New Zealand conservation and to bring our conservation story to life, especially for those thousands of New Zealanders who never normally have the opportunity to experience conservation in action. It is estimated the Visitor and Education Centre will attract 190,000 visitors a year, thus securing the Sanctuary’s future financially and enabling us to build on our position as a pioneer and leader in ecological restoration.”
“This is a wonderful tribute to the foresight and courage of our founders, not to mention the many thousands of volunteers, members, supporters and financial sponsors who have supported us and worked so hard to get us to where we are today,” said Karori Sanctuary Chief Executive Nancy McIntosh-Ward.