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Rimutaka Forest Park Catchpool Valley Tree Planting and Landscape Restoration Plan 2009 – 2014 Introduction

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Rimutaka Forest Park
Catchpool Valley Tree Planting and Landscape Restoration Plan
2009 – 2014
This planting and landscape restoration plan has been prepared as a result of management objectives adopted by the Rimutaka Forest Park Trust with support from Department of Conservation Poneke Area Office. Its purpose is to provide information on how parts of the logged Pinus radiata forest in the Catchpool Valley can be restored to native vegetation by aiding ecological succession through planting and weed clearance.
The majority of the planting sites are gorse dominated with some bracken, herbaceous weeds and wilding pines. Some sites have remnant vegetation patches which will be protected, expanded and bolstered through planting. Some native regeneration has already begun and is gradually superseding the gorse in places.
The main focus of the plantings that will occur over the coming years is for beautification and improvement of the amenity value of the area. Therefore the sites chosen are predominately along the lower slopes bordering the upper car park, the camping ground and wetland. This action is intended over time to create a visual buffer and take the focus off the bare upper slopes.
Much of the vegetation that once grew on the logged slopes pre pine plantation is still well represented in the surrounding area. This provides the basis of the re planting species to be used. The initial planting will tend to focus on successional species so that a significant visual improvement will be achieved quickly for amenity purposes. Alongside this selected canopy/emergent species will be the planted to speed up the longer term process of natural succession.
There is also an opportunity to incorporate some rare Wellington species such as Brachyglottis kirkii into the plantings to help secure the future of these species.

Management Objectives
The management objectives provide the broad basis upon which specific management policies for the project will be developed and implemented.
Specific Aims

  1. To enhance the natural biological and ecological characteristics of the Catchpool Valley logging site and its environs.

  2. To enhance the recreational experiences within the Catchpool Valley and its environs.

  3. To enhance community ‘buy in’ to the Catchpool Valley within Rimutaka Forest Park by providing a platform for private and corporate volunteer involvement.

The Trust-led planting and landscape restoration plan is simple and involves a programme of tree planting on lower valley slopes near the car park, above the camping ground and on other sites that have been disturbed through logging of pine forests.  The aim is to work with nature, preserve natural re-growth and supplement it in gorse/bracken sites where native trees are absent.  The short term aim is to markedly improve the amenity value of the lower slopes, make them more visually appealing to visitors and to widen the plant biodiversity and shelter for the birds.  Trapping and poisoning of predators will complement tree planting.  The Trust does not have ambitions to reforest the mid and upper slopes as this is unrealistic and is beyond the resources of the Trust.


Species Selection

Species selection has been based on what is currently growing in the forest park. Species lists were fine tuned to a list of 35 species that would be sufficient for creating a diverse and representative forest in time. The species are as follows:

Primary species

Aristotelia serrata (wineberry)

Brachyglottis repanda (rangiora)

Melicytus ramiflorus (mahoe)

Coprosma robusta, C. australis, C. lucida.

Cortaderia toetoe (toetoe)

Leucopogon fasciculatus (mingimingi)

Leptospermum scoparium (manuka)
Sub canopy species

Brachyglottis kirkii var kirkii (tree daisy)*

Melicytus ramiflorus (mahoe)

Pittosporum eugenioides (tarata)

Pseudopanax arboreus (five-finger)

Pseudopanax crassifolium (lancewood)

Pseudopanax ferox (fierce lancewood)*

Pseudowintera colorata (pepperwood)

Rhopalostylis sapida (nikau)

Schefflera digitata (pate)

Sophora tetraptera (kowhai)

Streblus banksii (large leaved milk tree)*

Carpodetus serrutus (putaputaweta)

Geniostoma ligustrifolium (hangehange)
Canopy species

Alepis flavida (yellow mistletoe)*

Beilschmiedia tawa (tawa)

Elaeocarpus dentatus (hinau)

Nothofagus solandri (black beech)

Nothofagus truncata (hard beech)

Weinmannia racemosa (kamahi)

Podocarpus ferrugineus (miro)
Emergent species

Dacrydium cupressinum (rimu)

Dacrycarpus dacrydioides (kahikatea)

Knightia excelsa (rewarewa)

Metrosideros robusta (rata)

Podocarpus totara (totara)

Laurelia novae-zelandiae (pukatea)

* denotes threatened species in the Wellington region

Some of the species on this list are threatened in the Wellington Region, if not nationally. Alepis flavida, Brachyglottis kirkii var kirkii, Pseudopanax ferox and Streblus banksii. Availability of these uncommon species will be intermittent if available at all; however their inclusion is highly desirable due to their threatened status in the Wellington Conservancy. However, it is not proposed that they be planted unless there is broad scientific agreement planting such species will not compromise the ecological integrity of the vegetation being established.

During the first 3 years of planting a priority list of species from the full list will be implemented. This is in part for early success and the availability of plants. Most species can be planted in a range of environments being hardy and tolerant. Over time as planting techniques and sites become more familiar and a good network of volunteers is established other species from the full list can be planted.
The priority list is as follows:

Coprosma robusta (karamu)

Coprosma lucida (shining karamu)

Coprosma australis (kanono)

Melicytus ramiflorus (mahoe)

Nothofagus solandri (black beech)

Leptospermum scoparium (manuka)

Nothofagus truncata (hard beech)

Pittosporum eugenioides (tarata)

Pseudopanax arboreus (five finger)

Sophora tetraptera (kowhai)

Weinmannia racemosa (kamahi)

Plant sources
The initial plants for the project are being purchased from local nurseries and are supplied in root trainers (RTT larger size) and PB3 size bags. Plants from nurseries should be delivered to the planting site or a nearby holding site at least one month prior to planting. This hardens the plants off to the local conditions. Plants going into the ground directly from the nursery can suffer a shock which may have a negative impact on survival.

Seed Collection recommendations for nurseries

A characteristic of NZ plants is the diversity found within the species. The same species may occur in several different forms throughout the country. Switching plants around from one area of the country to another has created a problem botanists refer to as genetic pollution. To avoid genetic pollution ensure the following is adhered to:

  • Always collect seed from the same ecological district you want to do the planting in.

  • In preference, collect seed from the same catchment. Only where practicable.

The Catchpool Valley falls within the Tararua Ecological District. Nurseries should be able to provide plants grown from seed that has been collected from within this Ecological District. Seed from the Wellington Ecological District will also be acceptable. It should be clear that commercial nurseries should meet this requirement.

Catchpool nursery establishment
The Rimutaka Forest Park Trust does not propose building a full nursery at the Catchpool – only a holding area where potted transplants can be held for periods of weeks or months. Establishment of a full nursery implies a new and time-consuming commitment by Trust members/volunteers at a time when Trust volunteers are already logistically stretched with trapping, managing the kiwi project and working to achieve other objectives that have priority because they are central to the aims of the Trust.  A time-consuming seedling germination, potting and transplanting programme is not realistic and is not a Trust priority.  The Trust prefers that the commercial nursery industry should continue to tackle the technically exacting task of growing seedlings. Specific well-grown tree-stocks can be bought as and when needed. This will enable the Trust with DOC concurrence to procure good quality, competitively priced plants of the species we require and it avoids the logistical and volunteer commitment problems that will inevitably arise if the Trust attempts to grow tree-stocks from seed or cuttings.

It is however desirable that a small tree-stock holding area be built that will incorporate measures to limit weed growth and for seedling irrigation.

Consultation with existing commercial nurseries and forest and bird nurseries will provide the advice and necessary expertise.
Possible contacts for this are:

Jonathan Bussel

Former Manager WCC nursery

Fred Allen

Kiwi Plants

Garry James

F & B home nursery manager

Stan Butcher & Alex Kettles

F & B Matiu revegetation programme

Planting Specifications

The planting season should generally be between April and the end of August. This is when the ground is at its most moist and is not an active growing time. Come spring the plants should be used to the soil conditions and should begin to establish their root systems for the growing season. Planting technique is vital to the success of any restoration project planting. Plant survival percentages are directly related the technique and quality of the planting process. While it might seem like a simple thing to do correctly, there are some pointers below that should be followed to help ensure that maximum numbers of plants survive. The planting sites at Catchpool experience harsh conditions especially during the summer months when it becomes hot and dry and poorly planted plant are most likely to die. The focus of plantings should be on QUALITY not quantity. There is the tendency to aim for a certain number of trees to be planted per group. This can lead to poor planting if there is an expectation that all the plants must go in.

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