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

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Planting guide (adapted from Manawa Karioi planting guide)

  1. Planting is best undertaken during autumn and winter,

  2. Ensure the root-mass is moist before removing the plastic bag.  Good watering at the holding area the day before is best to allow it to soak to the core of the PB or RTT.

  3. Make a hole at least 10cm deeper & wider than the root-mass of the plant.

  4. Try not to disturb more than 10% of the root-mass when removing from PB or RTT.

  5. Put a few of the water crystals in the bottom of the hole so they will be in immediate contact with the roots. 

  6. Return soil to half way up the root-mass, gently pushing it down with your finger tips as you go.  Add most of the water crystals at this stage.  In dry sites this encourages roots to grow outwards (rather than downwards) because rain is unlikely to soak far below the soil surface.  Water crystals should be placed hard up against the root-mass so they are in immediate contact with roots.  A small hand-full of water crystals should be sufficient for each plant.  Water crystals must be at least partly charged with water first.  Fill the rest of the hole with soil and press it down with your hands as you go to ensure it is firm.

  7. Make a dam around the plant to enhance water collection capacity, especially in dry sites. 

  8. Put a thick layer of mulch within at least a 20cm radius of the stem & ensure no soil is visible through it.  This suppresses weeds and greatly enhances water retention. Natural mulch from around the site is suitable.

Animal Pests
While goats and deer are present in the vicinity of the planting sites it is rabbits and hares that present a significant problem for planting within the Catchpool Valley. From previous planting projects it was soon discovered that plants were significantly browsed shortly after planting by rabbit and hares. Hare nets were trialled as a method of minimising damage but proved to be of limited value. Hare repellent is at this stage the most feasible option.
Repellent preparations are designed to render plants unpalatable and unattractive hares or rabbits. They are applied as foliar sprays, which have to be re-applied periodically to treat new growth occurring within browsing range (40cm - 50cm above ground level). Spray-on repellent should not be applied to the point of run-off. Adhesives in repellent mixes can block plant stomata when heavy applications are used. A coarse droplet size and a 50% foliar coverage overall are adequate for repellent spray to be effective.

The following commercial preparations are available through garden centres and agricultural merchants:

  • Thiroprotect - a thiram-based repellent.

  • Treepel - an egg-based repellent.

  • Plantskydd - a new product (has been tested successfully in trials).

In tandem with repellent spraying of plants, rabbit and hare control should be investigated via an ongoing Pindone poisoning regime. This would require an AEE (Assessment of Environmental Effects) which would include public notification and signage. This would ensure ongoing protection for plantings and any natural regeneration. Spotlight-night shooting by experienced shooters who are approved by the Department also needs to be considered.

Weed Control
The DOC Poneke Area office runs a weed control programme at Catchpool. This controls the most aggressive environmental weeds present at various locations throughout the valley. It is however likely that that new weed sites will be found within the planting zones.
Important weed species to look for are as follows:

Clematis vitalba (old man's beard)

Rubus fruticosus agg. (blackberry)

Asparagus scandens (climbing asparagus)

Buddleia davidii (Buddleia)

Pinus radiata (Monterey pine)

Pittosorum crassifolium (karo)

Salix fragilis (crack willow)

Sambucus nigra (elderberry)

Erica lusitanica (Spanish heath)
Ground cover

Tradescantia fluminensis (wandering Jew)

Rubus fruticosus agg., (blackberry)

Selaginella kraussiana (African club moss)
Should any of these species be discovered, if practicable shrub and tree species can be controlled by the planting team either as part of the planting work or as site preparation. Tree/shrub species can simply be pulled out (if seedling or sampling stage) or cut and painted with Vigilant herbicide if this is deemed appropriate by the team leader. DOC will supply hand saws, herbicide and training. If weeds are found and not controlled, their locations via a GPS fix or description of the site should be passed on to DOC staff.
Should Selaginella kraussiana (African club moss) be discovered, the site around the infestation should be avoided and left alone as this weed is easily spread by spores and vegetative parts on boots and tools. It is extremely hard to eradicate. Please report immediately to DOC staff.
Monitoring success
Monitoring the success of the planting project is vital for demonstrating what has been achieved. This can then be used to secure further funding and to indicate the progress being made. While various monitoring methods exist, many are too detailed and time consuming to be practical for what is essentially a straight forward project. For re-vegetation one of the most effective and communicative methods is by using photos points. These are recommended for this project.

Photopoints are a useful method for documenting large and small-scale changes in vegetation over time. Good quality images from a consistent view provide an overview of site development, without requiring detailed time consuming data collection.
A photopoint needs to be selected that will provide the best overall view of the area as well as showing changes, e.g. in vegetation coverage. Ease of access is an important factor along with clearly marking the point where the camera is placed. All points should also be GPS’ed, marked with a permanent post and mapped. Consistency is vital. This includes camera height and frame composition. It is helpful to use a feature in the photograph as a measuring tool to keep composition consistent, e.g. a certain tree or stump. Study the site from all angles to achieve the best locations. Each focal point should be photographed from several angles to build a complete picture of progress. Always use a tripod. Use the same focal length and ISO setting. A large as possible aperture of f16 - f22 is ideal to ensure a sharp over all images. Time of day and weather conditions should be replicated for each shot. When all these kinds of variables are replicated each time a valuable photographic record will be achieved. Interval for photopoint documentation is every 1-2 years. For easy of recording a record sheet should be established. An example is in the appendix.
Summary – points to remember:

  • Ease of access.

  • Points marked on the ground.

  • All points GPS’ed/mapped.

  • Consistent composition.

  • Multiple angles of focal point.

  • Use a tripod.

  • Same focal length.

  • Same ISO setting.

  • Large aperture.

  • Time of day and weather conditions replicated.

Planting Sites
The sites to be planted are shown in the attached map. These sites have been selected based on the following criteria:

  • Access to sites from the road;

  • Visual proximity of the site to car parking, picnicking and camping areas;

  • The possibility to enhance existing vegetation remnants and or natural regeneration.

  • Lower valley slopes generally not more than 50 metres above the valley floor.

Not all sites will be planted each year as a progressive approach will be taken looking to a long term strategy. The first site to be revegetated is the slopes above the upper car park. While potentially a difficult site to plant due to hard summer conditions it provides ease of access and is a good place for the project to commence. Some flexibility will be needed as planting sites can be selected to suit seasonal conditions and the capability of various planting groups.

Planting Management
In order to create natural looking re-vegetation, planting should be in a random manner in part guided by favourable landforms, such as a small lip or hollow or good soil which is deep or loose allowing for good root development. Planting in rows should be avoided so a random matrix effect is achieved.
Primary species

Primary species can be planted a higher densities than intermediate and emergent species. The purpose of the primary species is to establish a primary low canopy rapidly that helps suppress weeds and provides protection for intermediate species which tend to be slower growing. Plants should be randomly planted at 2 -3 metre spacing, but plant numbers and area to plant might dictate a wider spacing of 3 metres.

Sub canopy species

These species will form the basis of the medium term forest that will be created until they are over topped by the canopy/emergent species. They can be planted at lower densities than primary species and therefore extra care should be taken when planting. 5 - 10 meter spacing for these species is acceptable. They can be planted at similar spacing as primary species but this tends to waste plants in the short to medium term because as they establish they will out compete each other and will lead to natural thinning.

Canopy/emergent species

Sometimes referred to as climax species, these trees form the uppermost, longest lasting canopy trees in the forest. Canopy species can be planted at a similar density to the sub-canopy species or slightly more so. 10 meter spacing is acceptable. Some species are emergent above the canopy such as totara and rewarewa. Density is reduced again to 5 – 10 meters. However these species are often best planted in clumps of up to 10 plants which will create support for each other and promote tall straight growth as is seen in original forest. This is especially true for kahikatea, totara and rimu which often form small groves. . Rewarewa can be dispersed randomly.

Some general guide lines are:

  • Mix species randomly.

  • Plant in a random matrix, not in grids or rows.

  • All plant grades should be PB 3 pr RTT at the minimum.

  • Primary species are planted at the highest density and less for each sub canopy and canopy/emergent species as above.

Planting strategy
With each planting season the best suited species for the site will become apparent. This will necessitate a reassessment of the species listed below as some may not be unsuccessful. Choices will also depend on seed sources and the hardening off period on site and the quality of the planting. However some species will outperform others despite best intentions. . An effort should be made to avoid bias towards the hardiest species as this may reduce species diversity. This is seen on Mana and Matiu islands with a heavy bias toward Myoporum laetum (ngaio) at the exclusion of many other species.
General habitats that will be encountered at the planting sites are reasonably varied and provide provision for the range of species selection. Generally native species are reasonably resilient to a range of soil types and environmental conditions. Having said that some species are better suited than others to different conditions. Some tolerate dry conditions better while others are capable of thriving in wet situations. The following tables summarise habitats and climatic conditions that are best suited to the species chosen for this project.
Favoured habitat requirements for chosen plant species

Primary species



Dry face

Hill side




Aristotelia serrata (wineberry)

Brachyglottis repanda (rangiora)

**Coprosma robusta (karamu)

**Coprosma lucida (shining karamu)

**Coprosma grandifolia (kanono)

Cortaderia toetoe (toetoe)

Leucopogon fasciculatus (mingimingi)

Sub canopy species



Dry face

Hill side




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)*

Canopy species



Dry face

Hill side




Alepis flavida (yellow mistletoe)*








Beilschmiedia tawa (tawa)

Elaeocarpus dentatus (hinau)

**Nothofagus solandri (black beech)

**Nothofagus truncate (hard beech)

**Weinmannia racemosa (kamahi)

Emergent species



Dry face

Hill side




Dacrydium cupressinum (rimu)

Dacrycarpus dacrydioides (kahikatea)

Knightia excelsa (rewarewa)

Metrosideros robusta (rata)

Podocarpus totara (totara)

Laurelia novae-zelandiae (pukatea)

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