Biodiversity Management Plans (BMPs) are five year ecological restoration plans funded by BOPRC, WBOPDC and DOC, and at the end of five years they can be renewed.
Our first Biodiversity Management Plan was on Maketu Spit, and this is now into its second 5 year term. We also have BMPs covering conservation areas at Newdicks Beach, Dotterel Point, Pukehina and the Waihi Harbour Wetland.
Concentrating our work on these areas means that we can create habitats for native wildlife to flourish, protected from threats such as invasive species, habitat destruction, and human impact.
Maketu Spit is 45ha of coastal dune land located at the mouth of Kaituna River. It is 3.5km long and is the most intact coastal dune ecosystem in the Tauranga Ecological District.
The conservation work on Maketu spit has three main focuses:
- A year round pest control programme to protect our flagship bird, the threatened northern New Zealand Dotterel, Charadrius obscurus,which breed at the eastern end of the spit. We monitor the breeding of this species and have recorded a significant increase in numbers since monitoring began.
- A pest plant control programme which focuses mainly on invasive grasses, as well as gradually removing the pine trees.
- Maintaining the dune system by planting native stabilising plants on the fore dune, such as spinifex and pingao, and shrubs and trees on the back dune. This work will help to encourage the presence of wildlife such as native birds, invertebrates and skinks.
Newdicks Beach is an area with a unique topography of coastal cliffs, duneland and beach, providing a wide range of habitats. Unfortunately, a high prevalence of pest plants and animals were impacting the area, so in March 2014 a group of locals, including Maketu Ongatoro Wetland Society volunteers, made an Earth Hour pledge to start cleaning up the beach and surrounding area.
With the support of the local councils, DOC, and landowners, the Newdicks Beach Biodiversity Management Plan launched in July 2015. Great progress has been made since work began, including the replanting of native species to stabilise the dunes, the removal of invasive plants, and the building of steps to improve visitor access to the beach.
Our pest control program has been extremely effective, with the numbers of invasive mammals reducing year after year. Our reptile and invertebrate monitoring has also shown a great variety of native wildlife along the beach.
Dotterel Point, Pukehina
Dotterel Point, together with Maketu Spit, are unique in being the only example of sandspits running in opposite directions either side of a point in New Zealand, and one of only two in Australasia.
Our conservation work in this area began in In 2012, after the Rena disaster, when we put up a fence around the shore bird nesting area to cut down some of the human and quad bike activity on the point, protect the dotterel and oystercatchers, and allow the vegetation to start growing.
The fence has allowed an impressive build up of sand inside, almost all of it without additional planting, which goes to show the value of the two sand binding plants, spinifex and pingao, as well as the effect of stopping vehicles crossing the area.
Since then the size of the dotterel population in this area has doubled, from four pairs to now eight, possibly nine pairs breeding there, along with at least a dozen pairs of variable oystercatchers.
In 2014 we started a Biodiversity Management Plan working with the local councils and DOC. As well as monitoring the dotterels and oystercatchers, we are also working to get rid of invasive weeds, in particular ice plant, dimorphotheca, kikuyu and sea couch.
We have set up an animal pest control programme in the area, particular targeting the rabbits as they are a reoccurring problem, We also monitor reptiles and invertebrates, and, while this programme is in the early stages, we do know that we have a good population of shore skink there.
Waihi Harbour Wetland
The Waihi Harbour Wetland is a 45 hectare DOC reserve on the south side of Waihi Harbour. When we took it on it was heavily invaded by pampas, tall fescue and mercer grass. Access into the reserve was severely restricted, with huge amounts of pampas blocking the western stop bank and the causeway, along with other problems such as wattle trees, gorse and blackberry.
The project started in January 2015 with the use of a digger to remove as much of the pampas as we could, to make access possible. Since then we have worked to grass over much of the causeway and the stop banks to prevent weed invasion. We have removed around 20 wattle trees, planted 500 plants, carried out a helicopter spray of the pampas and other grasses in the previously farmed area, and carried out weed control from the ground.
At the end of 2015 we instigated a trapping programme which has been successful in controlling the possums, stoats, weasels, ferrets and rats.
Wildlife is now thriving in this area, and the reserve is home to breeding populations of birds such as Australasian Bittern, Banded Rail, Spotless Crake and Pied Stilt, Australasian Shoveler and mallard. It is also frequented by the flock of Royal Spoonbill, and our reptile monitoring program has shown a small population of shore skink.
This is a long term project, and we hope that each year the reserve will become that little bit better, and home to an increasing number of native species.