The pressure for land clearance still remains, to allow the building of motorways and other infrastructure, and the forest fragments that do remain have often been logged to remove the largest trees for timber leaving them as a shadow of their former glory.
Despite this, Auckland's microforests are really interesting to visit if you have a little spare time. Possibly the easiest to visit is the forest in Gribblehirst Park in Sandringham which grows in a carpark on a lava flow from Mt Albert. Another is a lava forest in Withiel Drive on the slopes of Mt Eden whereas others include Kepa Bush in Meadowbank and Dingle Dell in St Heliers.
On the northern edge of Auckland there remain surprisingly large forest patches, such as at Wenderholm. In this area we have begun working with a landowner who has covenented some significant forest patches to protect them and plans to enhance them with restoration plantings to expand them, link them together, and to undo the ravages of decades of stock grazing.
The proposed development of adjacent farmland for housing will release capital to allow this ambitious work to proceed and is a great example of a win-win outcome. The public will get protection and enhancement of ecological resources at no cost and future residents will get a wonderful environment in which to live, complete with their own dawn chorus.
Auckland's original forest cover has been almost completely removed by humans leaving a patchwork of fragments in valleys and on steep slopes. This began when Auckland's rich volcanic soils were sought after for growing food, first by Maori and then by European settlers.
Aranovus Limited has joined the crowd funding Buy-a-Beach campaign to purchase the Awaroa Inlet beach in the beautiful Able Tasman. This is a wonderful opportunity for New Zealanders to engage with the conservation of this magical place and to facilitate its switch from private to public ownership.
New Zealanders connect strongly with the coastal environment and there is continual pressure to subdivide and develop coastal land. Spits and shellbanks are inherently fragile environments that are prone to rapid change, but at the same time they are critical habitats for wildlife, including threatened species. Having an intact and uninterrupted continuum of habitats from low tide through the intertidal zone to the dunes and coastal forest increases the ecological value of the site. Having to make an effort to get there means that disturbance will also be reduced.
Having previously visited Totaranui, further to the north, we are familiar with the area and now we have a great excuse to go back. We look forward to seeing the campaign come to a successful conclusion and to the beach being added to the national park. Congratulations to the visionaries who made the effort to make this happen and "good on ya mate" to everyone who has stepped up to support it. We are proud to have joined the crowd.
Earlier this year we were closely involved with mediation and hearings around the definitions and rules for streams for the Proposed Auckland Unitary Plan. As with many aspects of natural resource management what looks like a good idea on paper can be challenging to put into practise in the field. However, with input from a range of perspectives we are confident the process will produce a sensible solution.
Over the past year or more we have been working with Sanctuary Heartland Ltd on their exciting and innovative residential development in Flat Bush. "The Reserve" is a 65 unit townhouse development being built on the corner of Murphy's Road and Flat Bush School Road where half the site is a protected forest remnant just north of Murphy's Bush, the largest remaining native forest patch in the Auckland metropolitan area.
Despite being in poor condition after decades of grazing, the forest is showing remarkable resilience after the removal of animals and regeneration is appearing everywhere, including a white rata seedling growing on a tree trunk. Ecological restoration has focused on invasive weed and pest control, combined with supplementary planting to re-establish a subcanopy layer.
The design of the development provides an innovative, people-friendly, built environment with all vehicle traffic in underground garages and wide, open ground level pedestrian lanes between the buildings with pathways extending into the forest as a common space. New residents can look forward to living at the level of the tree canopy with two remnant puriri trees also forming large specimen trees amongst the buildings. This is a great example of how development can be clustered to provide room for environmental resources to be preserved and restored and one of Auckland's scarce native forest remnants can look forward to a much brighter and more secure future as a result.