A thousand pohutukawa trees are being made available for planting on the Coromandel as part of efforts to get more of the iconic New Zealand trees flowering on the peninsula.
Regional council Environment Waikato and the Project Crimson Trust are partnering up for the project which will see the 1000 pohutukawa distributed to Coromandel landowners next winter.
“The aim is to get more pohutukawa established to help this much-loved species survive, and to ensure that future generations can enjoy the red Christmases the Coromandel is well known for,” said Environment Waikato land management officer Matt Highway.
“These trees will also support Peninsula Project soil conservation initiatives, improving biodiversity, water quality and soil stability,” said Mr. Highway.
EW will distribute the seedlings to landowners via the Peninsula Project soil conservation programme. They will also collect local pohutukawa and rata seed, which will be ready for planting in three years. This eco-sourcing ensures the distinctiveness of Coromandel plants and ecosystems.
Project Crimson Trust executive director Bridget Abernethy said: “We like partnering with organisations like Environment Waikato. We can take comfort that these trees are going to go to the most appropriate locations, that they will be planted by caring communities and that they will be protected for future generations.”
The Project Crimson Trust, set up in partnership with Meridian Energy and the Department of Conservation, is dedicated to the protection and enhancement of New Zealand’s pohutukawa and rata trees. Project Crimson Trust is celebrating 20 years this February 2010.
In 1989 around 90 per cent of the original area of pohutukawa in New Zealand was thought to have been lost. Much of what remained had been ravaged by possums, with very little regeneration evident. Since 1990, Project Crimson volunteers have planted almost half a million pohutukawa across New Zealand.
DOC has managed to breed two kakapo using artificial insemination in what’s being hailed as a world first and a boost for critically-endangered birds everywhere.
Kakapo are notoriously slow to reproduce, and DOC hopes the breakthrough will now ensure the birds’ survival.
There are only 124 kakapo in existence, but with the help of artificial insemination, or AI, they may just be able to claw their way back from the brink of extinction.
“It’s just a fantastic tool for us to protect the future population of kakapo against further inbreeding, and also hopefully improve fertility rates,” says DOC’s Deirdre Vercoe.
“It’s a real breakthrough, a scientific breakthrough to achieve AI in a wild bird like this,” says Forest & Bird’s Chris Todd.
With more than 50 percent of kakapo eggs infertile, associate professor Ian Jameison says AI is a revolutionary tool in the fight for their survival.
It has been a tragic week for the fairy tern, New Zealand’s rarest breeding bird.
Earlier in the week, two eggs went missing at Waipu cove along with two chicks. Now two eggs have gone missing at Mangawhai Wildlife Reserve.
When there are fewer than 40 of these birds left, any loss is massive.
“You can see we’ve got good signage over there, so I don’t think anyone could have mistaken it,” said Abby Marr from the Department of Conservation.
Ms Marr is puzzled; unlike last week in Waipu this case appears to involve a person as opposed to a predator.
“This one is a little more unusual in that we did have human prints going up towards where the eggs were,” Ms Marr says.
Monday, 21 December 2009, 11:12 am
Press Release: NZ Plant Conservation Network
Climate change increases value of Kiwi native plant
The golden sand sedge – pingao – has won the New Zealand Plant Conservation Network’s 2009 favourite plant poll, and could be a valuable defence against climate change effects.
The pingao topped more than 100 species in the annual poll. Network President Philippa Crisp said that pingao would become increasingly important in combating the effects of climate change, particularly as an increasing number of coastal homes came under threat
“If the global plan to fight climate change stalls and sea level rises occur, pingao will become even more important to New Zealanders because it plays an important role in stabilising sand dunes and creating a beach contour that is not so vulnerable to storm events and sea level rises,” Dr Crisp said. “Pingao may be our only sustainable hope for coastal protection”.
2010 – pivotal in seeking to secure world night sky reserve for New Zealand
Next year is pivotal to the success of New Zealand seeking a world heritage night sky reserve for Tekapo Aoraki-Mt Cook
A UNESCO World Heritage meeting in Brasilia in June will be crucial to New Zealand’s chances, leader of the Working party bid former Cabinet minister Margaret Austin says.
“We are launching a nationwide campaign in the lead up to the Brasilia conference next year, so we can tell the public people this project has real and exciting potential particularly in the lead up to the Brasilia conference.’’
Austin says there has been a reluctance to acknowledge that the stars and starlight are significant to human heritage under UNESCO conventions. But there is a groundswell of public concern at the extent to which people no longer see the stars in so many parts of the world and we need a source of income to achieve our goal of world heritage and international support.
The key milestone this year was getting the Tekapo Aoraki/Mt Cook starlight reserve working party up and running so the bid could demonstrate their commitment to the project. With the backing of the Mackenzie District Council there is a belief that astro-tourism, education and awareness of the significance of the dark sky and appreciation of the cultural history for Maori can be realised in the next few years.
Scoop: Top predator makes spectacular return to capital
Photo by Tom Lynch, ZEALANDIA/Karori Sanctuary Trust.
Click to enlarge
Press Release: Zealandia
New Zealand’s top predator makes spectacular return to the capital
Conservation staff at the groundbreaking ZEALANDIA eco-sanctuary in Wellington believe they have found the first New Zealand falcons to have hatched in the city since the species disappeared as a breeding population in the Seventies.
“It’s an extremely significant discovery,” said ZEALANDIA conservation manager Raewyn Empson
“Although there are quite a few breeding pairs in the Hutt Vally and Eastbourne, they haven’t bred in Wellington city for decades! And they are hanging around right next to the main track, so it really is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see these powerful predators up close and in their element”
This time last year, ZEALANDIA staff found the capital’s first ever recorded nest, very close to where this year’s fledgings are hanging out. Unfortunately, the nest had been abandoned before any eggs were laid. A second nest, this time with eggs in it, was found in July – incredibly early for falcons – but that also failed.
Wednesday, 9 December 2009, 9:44 am
Press Release: NIWA
Draft NIWA MEDIA STATEMENT 9 December 2009
Catch me if you can! Scientists play tag with whitebait species
New Zealand’s iconic whitebait species are disappearing from our waterways, but help could soon be at hand for the threatened giant kōkopu. Scientists are carrying out a trial involving ‘tagging’ of individual farm raised fish as part of a plan to reintroduce them to our waterways.
The National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) and Mahurangi Technical Institute (MTI), who will be providing the fish, have been engaged by the NZ Transport Agency and its Northern Gateway Alliance (NGA) partners to undertake a project as part of the mitigation programme associated with the recent construction of the Agency™s SH1 toll road. Together they aim to repopulate a stream in Orewa with giant kÍkopu. The giant kÍkopu is one of five galaxiid fish species which, in their juvenile form, make up the whitebait catch and is classified by the Department of Conservation as nationally vulnerable.
December 3, 2009
Kakariki breeding on Motutapu for first time in 100 years
They’ve been gone for more than 100 years, but last week, a family of red-crowned parakeets was spotted flying down from the trees in a peaceful gully on Motutapu.
Luis Ortiz-Catedral, parakeet specialist and Massey University PhD student, says one of the birds was clearly a recently fledged juvenile that must have hatched on the island.
“I estimate it fledged about two weeks ago considering the size of the tail, the colouration of the beak and also because it was still being fed by its parents,” he says.
Red-crowned parakeets — one of five main species of kakariki — were recorded on Motutapu in September by the Ornithological Society of New Zealand (OSNZ). The OSNZ conducts bird surveys for the Motutapu Restoration Trust every year. Mr Ortiz-Catedral joined them last week to look for signs of breeding parakeets.
Only the male of the pair was banded, and had been released on nearby pest-free Motuihe eight months ago.
Motutapu and Rangitoto are on their way to becoming pest-free after the Department of Conservation began a two-year campaign to rid the islands of seven remaining mammalian pests in June this year.
Just minutes out of the nest and the terrified chick found himself having two feathers pulled out, a microchip inserted and numerous measurements taken.
Yellow Mauve Lime, named after his leg band colours, was the first kaka chick of this year’s breeding season to be banded at Zealandia wildlife sanctuary in Karori on Thursday.
The 538-gram native was a “brave frontrunner” which underwent the experience calmly, Conservation officer Matu Booth said.
As Mr Booth inserted almost his whole arm into the heart of Yellow Mauve Lime’s nest, the mother bird and five other kaka squawked overhead but eventually calmed down.
The chick also settled down, and Mr Booth said banding kaka was much more enjoyable than banding other birds, partly because kaka chicks were relatively big and easier to handle.