NURTURING OUR NATIVE FOREST AND WETLAND RESERVES
City Forests has voluntarily designated 2,047 ha of its land as permanent reserve sites in and around its plantation forest areas. This represents 11.9% of the working forest area that City Forests manages.
These reserves have a wide variety of conservation values, including small areas protected for unique and nationally significant soil types, regenerating and mature native forest areas, wetlands and significant water catchments protected for rare native fish species. These areas range in size from a few hectares to several hundred hectares. Some areas have important conservation values, while others are of relatively low value.
There are large stands of manuka forest (Leptospermum scoparium) in the City Forests estate and its value includes nurturing large bee populations and supporting local manuka honey production. Manuka honey is used worldwide because of its health-giving properties and powerful antibacterial qualities.
The company has a management plan for these reserves and it employs ecologists to survey the sites (and potential sites) to assess their value and assist us to develop appropriate management and monitoring protocols. City Forests has had a reserves' classification system developed for the reserve areas by Wildland Consultants, an ecological consultancy organisation. The system is designed to comply with the principles and criteria of FSC. Classification has been progressively applied to all reserve areas as fine level survey analysis becomes available for them. This will help us to prioritise our management effort and expenditure towards the most important conservation values and issues present.
During 2014 an ecological survey of the final major areas of potential reserves (in the company's Kaitangata block) was completed, and an earlier survey of the company's Waipori forest area will be revisited during late 2017. During 2015 and 2016 the company has contributed to a Bush Robin/kakaruai monitoring project being run by the University of Otago's Zoology Department in the company's Silverpeaks forest. We are also co-funding an investigation of NZ Falcon population dynamics in our forests for three years, which began in spring 2016. We continue to explore options for enhancing Galaxias (native fish) habitat in our forests with the Department of Conservation.
The company is also investing heavily in wilding tree removal operations in the Waipori wetlands reserves, including in an adjacent Tussock reserve. During 2016 a further large area was cleared of Pinus contorta, with more work planned for the latter part of 2017.