The groundbreaking pest control programme for Te Ara o Te Ata: Mt Messenger Bypass has made great strides in the project’s early months.
Since last August, the Mt Messenger Alliance team has created more than 70km of a targeted 250km of pest management tracks, and fitted 850 bait stations in damaged forest around the new section of SH3.
In addition, more than 170 wild goats have been culled from the project area and the adjacent Parininihi block.
Alliance lead ecologist Roger MacGibbon says predators such as rats, stoats and possums have seriously impaired the mature native forest surrounding the route of the future 6km bypass, and the wildlife that lives in that habitat.
“Our pest management programme will support the forest’s recovery from this damage and provide an environment where threatened species such as kiwi, fern birds, kōkako and long-tailed bats can thrive once more.”
The achievements to date will be enhanced further this winter with an aerial application of pesticide over the project area and the nearby Parininihi, in a joint operation with the Department of Conservation. Engagement with nearby landowners is now underway.
Delivered at regular intervals in the area since 1992, the aerial application of cereal pellets containing biodegradable 1080 toxin is the only viable pest control method in large, remote, forest-covered, and rugged areas.
Given the high tree canopy of this forest, an aerial treatment is necessary to achieve the required reductions in pest numbers, particularly of rats.
The aerial work is supported by project partner Ngāti Tama, as kaitiaki and mana whenua committed to safeguarding the life expectancy and reproduction of taonga species in the project area and Parininihi.
The project’s enduring pest management commitment over 3,650 hectares is part of a broader environmental programme for Te Ara o Te Ata, which seeks to leave the area in a better condition than its current state.
The programme will also deliver large areas of restoration planting, to offset the native vegetation removed to build the road and lessen the effects of construction on the local ecology.
Thirty-two hectares of forest, wetland and riparian planting will be undertaken, comprising approximately 120,000 plants. A further 100,000-plus plants will be planted along the roadside margins and embankments, with all seedlings grown from locally sourced seed.
Through these environmental efforts Waka Kotahi and Ngāti Tama aim to achieve significant improvements in biodiversity within 10 to 15 years of completing the bypass.
More information on biodegradable 1080 is available at DOC’s website(external link).