Air Force to help Piroa/Brynderwyn conservation work

3 May 2022, 10:29 AM

Efforts to improve the Piroa/Brynderwyn (Mangawhai/Waipū) High Value Area (HVA) are to get help from an unexpected quarter, the Royal New Zealand Air Force, from Monday 02-Friday 06 May.

Piroa-Brynderwyns Landcare is a collective of more than 30 community-led conservation projects aiming to restore biodiversity in the Brynderwyn ranges and environs.

The collective works across a High Value Area spanning more than 22,374 hectares and which is home to three threatened and 11 regionally significant plant species, as well as 10 threatened and five regionally significant fauna.

A high number of indigenous plants, the native Hochstetter's frog, and longfin eel also inhabit this area. Its diverse forest habitat attracts kaka, tomtit, bell bird, New Zealand pigeon and fern bird populations, and red-crowned kakariki are occasional visitors from the Hen and Chicken Islands off the Bream Bay Coast.

More than 40 kiwi were released in the Piroa/Brynderwyn HVA from 2012 and are now successfully breeding and beginning to expand their range throughout the area.

However, ferrets, stoats and weasels all threaten the area’s biodiversity, which also suffers from kauri dieback. Invasive weeds impact unique coastal cliffs and forest remnants.

Significant effort has been made to reduce the number of pests in the area during the past two years alone including the removal of thousands of possum and rodents, along with hundreds of wild pigs, feral cats and mustelids and more than a million moth plant seeds.

The Northland Regional Council has supported more than 20 biosecurity Environment Fund projects since 2010. This has seen work undertaken to control various introduced pests and weeds, with growing interest from the community to do more.

However, yesterday (02 May) a team of approximately 25 staff from the Royal New Zealand Air Force arrived in Mangawhai to join the volunteers of Piroa-Brynderwyns Landcare for a week's work progressing important conservation efforts that benefit the local community.

The team will start work with the Wairahi Tracks Charitable Trust and Mangawhai Trackies which are well known in the area having cut in many of the walking tracks in the area that the public now enjoy.

The work focus is to ‘cut in’ a new section of walking trail that will potentially be incorporated into the Te Araroa Trail, which passes over the Waorahi Conservation Estate, and to install a bait station network in the adjoining Department of Conservation Reserve.

The track cutting work will open an important alternative track to the public, moving walkers off the public roadside to enjoy the natural landscape and seascape of the area by travelling via a connected network of tracks.

Councillor Rick Stolwerk, who represents the council’s local Coastal South constituency, says the project has grown significantly over the past year.

“It’s great to see all the long-standing volunteers getting a boost and some muscle power in the form of support from the Airforce to tackle and expand the mahi in the area.”

The Air Force’s help will enable the team to complete the project within just five working days and meet major milestones in conservation and recreational plans in the area that would otherwise take many months to complete.

The bait station installation is a great step to support the national, regional, and local ‘Predator Free 2050’ initiative by helping extend existing intensive predator control into the Department of Conservation reserve which is currently uncontrolled.

The Air Force’s work will also add tremendous value to the community's efforts to secure safe corridors for kiwi to safely disperse and other rare and unique species present in the Piroa-Brynderwyn hills, including Hochstetter frogs and long tailed bats.

Piroa/Brynderwyn (Mangawhai/Waipū) High Value Area (HVA) bush.

A view of the Piroa/Brynderwyn (Mangawhai/Waipū) High Value Area.