A development at Te Arai, which opponents claim is threatening endangered shorebird species, is having a beneficial impact on breeding and nesting, says the hapu behind the project.
Te Uri o Hau chief executive Deborah Harding said census data collected over the breeding season at the adjacent Mangawhai Wildlife Refuge – an important nesting site of the fairy tern, New Zealand’s most endangered bird – shows that the current season has been the most successful since data collection began in the early 1990s.
The season saw nine fairy tern chicks hatch and all survive to fledge, a record number. In addition, a record nine shorebirds species were observed nesting in the refuge.
“Forest and Bird strongly supports Te Uri o Hau’s involvement in the fairy tern recovery programme, and their trapping work at Mangawhai and Te Arai over the last winter has significantly lowered predator numbers at Mangawhai,” said Mark Bellingham, Forest & Bird’s Fairy Tern Project Manager.
“Fairy tern recovery will only succeed if we all work together to protect this unique taonga.”
Deborah Harding said Forest & Bird, DOC and volunteers from the Ornithological Society, Dotterel Care Group, About Tern and the New Zealand Fairy Tern Charitable Trust, all play a vital role in protecting the shorebird populations, and have done so for many years. The good weather is also important.
“The single major difference between this breeding season and past years have been the changes at Te Arai over the past 18 months – where a 616 hectare pine forest is being transformed into a world class golf course, Tara-Iti, and small scale development.
“The removal of 150 hectares of pine trees has significantly reduced the cover for pests and predators like stoats, rats, hedgehogs and cats which threaten the shorebirds in the immediately adjacent Mangawhai Wildlife Refuge.
The development has significantly increased the resources available for predator control says Ms Harding. Last year $70,000 was spent to markedly increase the intensity of hunting, trapping, and poisoning operations, working with DOC and other volunteer groups, including the Mangawhai Harbour Restoration Society.
“This includes a site-wide animal pest control programme throughout the forest. The development also funded predator control at the Mangawhai Wildlife Refuge, and TUOH also obtained funding from the ASB Community Trust for predator control activities over the winter months.”
The success of these programmes can be seen in the reducing number of pests and predators being found and killed, and the much improved breeding and nesting data.
“What we are doing at Te Arai is changing the land use from one with very poor ecological values – a low grade pine forest – to one which is much better for the environment – very limited development with considerable native revegetation and the management of ecological threats,” adds Deborah Harding.
“The results show that the development is having a positive effect. With the continued resources we will invest in predator control and revegetation throughout the forest, and we expect that these positive impacts will continue to benefit the threatened bird species.”