Stretching 37,000 hectares from Paeroa to Rotorua, the Kaimai Mamaku Ranges are the point where the warm forests of the north converge with the cold forests of the south. Beech meets kauri in what is the largest continuous tract of forest in the upper North island.
Those over 70 will remember that this forest once rang with the sound of birdsong, however the dawn chorus has been diminished in recent years.
The forests’ mighty trees have been felled and the earth mined for gold, while introduced pests such as rats, possums and deer, have caused serious damage by browsing native plants and preying on birds and their nests.
The Kaimai Mamaku was once home to a large population of tomtit, robin and whitehead, and a stronghold of kokako, but the bird population has been reduced to more common species such as fantail, tui, silver-eye and the grey warbler.
To the casual observer the ranges appear to be in good health, but on closer inspection it is easy to see the damage that has been wrought by browsing pest animals.
The once shaded forest-floor is scorched by sunlight that breaks through the depleted upper canopy. Wind also gets in, causing further damage, and the understory is wiped out as no new seedlings are able to grow.
Once the protective cloak of forest is damaged, the impact of rain on the exposed soil makes it vulnerable to erosion and flooding, and reduces its value as the water catchment of nearby towns and farms.
What Forest & Bird is doing
The seven branches surrounding the Kaimai Mamaku range are working to -
• restore the Kaimai Mamaku forest and hinterland to a state where biodiversity is enhanced and sustained.
• ensure that native vegetation is healthy and diverse.
• ensure that wildlife is abundant and the dawn chorus is restored.
• protect valuable water catchment areas in the ranges.
To achieve these goals we have initiated a rich-mosiac of interconnected and overlapping projects which include:
The Kaimai Connection
The Kaimai Connection project aims to restore birdsong and native wildlife to a corridor of protected land linking the Tauranga harbour in the east to the Waihou River in the west. The Kaimai Connection area links the Te Puna and Aongatete catchments in the Bay of Plenty across the Kaimai Mamaku Forest Park to the Middle Waihou catchment in the Waikato. More
The Aongatete Forest Restoration Project
Forest and Bird and Katikati Rotary volunteers are restoring 280 hectares of native forest at Aongatete near Katikati. Permission has now been obtained to expand pest control in this area to 1000 hectares which will allow the translocation of bird species such as weka once pest numbers are sufficiently reduced. The reduction in rats, possums and stoats is seeing a return of native vegetation and birds including kamahi, kohekohe, robin and NZ pigeon. In support of this effort DOC is currently undertaking a 300 hectare possum Henry trap trial within the 1000 hectare area. More
Land for Wildlife and Gardens for Wildlife
Forest & Bird is initiating pilot Land for Wildlife (LFW) and Gardens for Wildlife (GFW) programmes within the Kaimai Connection. These will support willing landowners to restore and protect biodiversity on their land. Twenty rural properties within the Bay of Plenty and Waikato will participate in the Land for Wildlife project. The Gardens for Wildlife scheme, which encourages the return of native wildlife to gardens will involve 20 urban properties within the Omokoroa and Matamata areas. More
The Kaimai Environmental Education Programme (KEEP)
This pilot project aims to educate young people about our native bush, freshwater and coastal waters through native plant identification and survival skills workshops, lessons in forest ecology and hands-on surveys. The week-long programme will be held concurrently at maraes on both sides of the Kaimais, and each will involve eight young people accompanied by a parent or guardian. KEEP will provide goals and content reflecting the relationship between people and nature, education, and the wellbeing of the individual, family and community.
Kaimai Catchments Project
Rampant pests, declining water quality and uncontrolled sedimentation in the BOP’s estuaries and harbours prompted the Department of Conservation, Environment Bay of Plenty and Environment Waikato to set up the Kaimai Catchment Project. It has pulled together a forum of tangata whenua, conservation, recreational and business representatives to address issues of including erosion, pollution and pests. Forest and Bird are working closely with the forum participants and agencies involved.
A State of the Environment assessment for the catchments of the Kaimai Range and Northern Mamaku Plateau is available here. HINT: Order a copy of the CD from 0800 ENV BOP (368 267) or email@example.com as the download files are large.