Over the last wee while our MEG field team have been hard at work making and clearing tracks on the Eastern coastline between Port Charles and Waikawau, including Potiki Bay.
The ancient Pohutukawa, Puriri, Kohekohe and other associated coastal trees in this special area are being devastated by large Possum numbers. So large are the numbers that our team have seen numerous Possum climbing through the canopy during daylight hours while they’ve been working!
Access to these sites is extremely difficult so some major work has been undertaken by the team, including extensive GPS mapping of the area and thanks to funding from WRC, and the support of the landowners, the cyanide Possum control is well underway.
The initial Possum monitoring proved challenging as there were high levels of rodent interference. It would be great to be able to carry out rat control here in the future, as well as the adjacent regenerating native forest, as the area is a great habitat for native lizards, birds and invertebrates.
Commonly when we cut new tracks the tracks are given a 3 letter name for identification. The name might refer to the person who cut the track or the name of the area the track is located. The individual tracks/lines in this project have been respectfully named by our team with names from a local Maori legend.
Although it may be too late to save some of the individual Pohutukawa trees within this area, many will come back and flourish post Possum control and the remnant as a whole should recover. Therefore it is very important that ongoing control be carried out to ensure Possum numbers do not get back to this level again and that no further iconic ancient trees are lost.
The image below shows the skeletons of Pohutukawa trees at Potiki Bay that have fallen victim to the endless appetite of possum.