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Native vegetation surveys

1 June 2023

Only 23% of original native vegetation remains in the Tairāwhiti region. Some of the best preserved and most diverse examples of indigenous vegetation in our region are in private ownership and many are mapped as Protection Management Areas or PMAs in our regional plan. They are subject to special rules in the plan that help to protect the areas from clearance but there are no rules in regard to pest control or fencing.

PMAs cover 7% (58,000ha) of the total land area in our region - State of our Environment Report 2020. There are 315 individual PMAs, most of which are located on private land. The types of vegetation range from coastal dune land to high elevation beech forest.

The areas were originally mapped back in the 1980’s, along with recording detailed descriptions of the vegetation present and the overall condition of the areas. In summer 2017, 48 of the 315 areas we re-surveyed for the first time since the original mapping was done.

Council’s biodiversity team is now continuing the work that began in 2017 as part of their annual work programme. Re-visiting these PMAs is important, both to meet our biodiversity monitoring obligations as a regional authority under the Resource Management Act, and to update our records about the state of these significant, but often isolated patches.

PMAs are located both on farms and within production forestry blocks. The team aims to visit around 20-25 every year, but this year efforts were hampered by the impacts of Cyclone Gabrielle.

The survey is led by Biodiversity Team Leader Don McLean, who is usually accompanied by another member of the team, or sometimes a landowner will be interested to come along. Survey 123 software is used on a field device to record information on flora and fauna species identified, along with any issues affecting the health of the patch, such as damage to vegetation, signs of pests, weeds, disease or stock access.

Back at the office the findings are loaded into a database and feedback is given to the landowner.

This information is used to help Council identify trends in biodiversity gains or losses in the region, monitor the impacts of interventions such as pest control and stock exclusion, as well as offering restoration advice and helping landowners to potentially access funding for maintaining or enhancing these important areas.

If you are the owner of a PMA that has not yet been re-surveyed or are thinking about applying for a Natural Heritage Fund grant for fencing, or weed and pest control in your PMA, please get in touch with the Biodiversity team on 06 8672049.