Forest owners are tasked with ensuring that commercial plantation forests are managed in a way that maximises the economic outcomes for owners at the time of harvest. The role requires balancing this with the environmental, social, cultural, and recreational needs of the community. Forest owners comply with a number of voluntary and legislative tools to enhance and maintain biodiversity in our forests. These include the Resource Management Act, the Wildlife Act, the soon to be implemented National Policy Statement for Plantation Forestry, our own Environmental Code of Practice, and a number of Accords with environmental NGOs. In additional to these mechanisms, over 60% of the forest estate (1.2 million hectares) comply with the standards set by the Forest Stewardship Council.
The following is a summary of key conservation management actions that can be undertaken to protect threatened plants and animals that occur within and next to to plantation forests. Further species-specific recommended management actions are given within each species text, as are sources of information and recommended reading.
- Protecting habitats is the best way to help indigenous biodiversity. The habitat includes indigenous bush and scrub, corridors, waterways, riparian margins, and wetlands, where many threatened species live, feed or hide.
- Some areas can be protected by fencing them off.
- Let fish get past artificial barriers, with culverts, rock ramps, baffles, or rope spats.
- Abstract water carefully from areas of important habitat. Fishing, such as for longfin eel, should be regulated or prevented altogether.
- Introduced fish and weeds should be prevented from establishing in waterways.
Forest harvest management
- Harvest plantation forests to cause the least damage to indigenous remnants, particularly riparian vegetation and wetlands, and anywhere supporting threatened plant populations. Reduce or avoid discharging sediment.
- Many species will look for escape routes during felling. Staging harvesting to keep escape routes open helps birds such as kiwi and weka. Falcons benefit from a non-operation buffer of 100 to 200 metres from nests.
- Absence of grazing, burning or spraying will encourage vegetation and ground moisture to recover.
- Minimise spray use near waterways. If an area may support native frogs seek specialist advice.
- Kiwi inhabit slash piles and these microhabitats should only be removed or burnt at night when the birds are active.
Pest animal control
- Introduced mammals, such as cats, mustelids (stoats, ferrets, and weasels), hedgehogs, and rats threaten native and endemic invertebrates, reptiles, bats and birds.
- Predator control can be tailored. For instance, North Island kokako require more intensive possum and rat control than kereru. North Island brown kiwi fear mustelids and cats.
- Excluding, leashing or aversion training dogs is vital in areas with kiwi or weka.
- Goats, deer, possums and wandering stock browse on threatened plants if they are not fenced off.
Pest plant control
- Invasive weeds crowd out indigenous plants’ light, nutrients and space. Uncontrolled wetlands’ weeds, such as willows, can destroy indigenous ecosystems. However, wetlands weed control is difficult and help from an expert may be needed.
- Weeds on sand dunes replace indigenous plants and animals.
Survey and monitoring
- The Department of Conservation can advise on surveys of endangered populations.
- Monitoring will show if your protection work is succeeding and help educate staff.
- Community groups can assist by managing nesting areas, providing nest boxes, controlling predators and weeds, and by monitoring.