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Kotukutuku Ecological Restoration Project
The Kotukutuku Ecological Restoration Project manages the ecological restoration of 17 ha Kohekohe lowland forest area at 331 Valley Road, Paraparaumu.
The Projects objectives are to:
• sustain and enhance the biodiversity of the area
• protect threatened species
• return species lost to the Kapiti conservancy area
• research best practice restoration/ conservation for this habitat
• Providing practical work opportunities for committed volunteers (regular core) and small visiting groups to learn about conservation by hands-on involvement.
• Promoting and making spaces available for prayer and reflection.
• Working with the local Whakarongotai Marae to support their role as kaitiaki and protect green mistletoe (Ileostylus micranthus).
• be a working model of a sanctuary on private land
A limited-scale pest control programme has been operating with effective possum control and stock exclusion occurring over the last 20 years. This resulted in significant ecological restoration of the flora and now the project seeks to achieve ecosystem restoration to enhance the biodiversity of the site. This will involve implementation of an extensive predator control regime using traps and bait stations initially in one half of the project area in year one with the remainder being incorporated in year two.
Once established the project will not only restore a threatened ecosystem but also provide protection for a number of native species including Tui, bellbird, kereru, northern grass skink (Oligosoma polychroma), copper skink (O. aeneum), the barking gecko (Naultinus punctatus. ) and a number of flora such as native mistletoe. Additionally, opportunities for invertebrate conservation for species such as Powelliphanta will be created.
Once fully implemented a comprehensive monitoring programme operates within the project area. The project already has in place over in half of the project area. Tracking tunnels for introduced predators but also native lizards (including arboreal tracking tunnels), pitfall traps for lizards/invertebrates, vegetation assessment plots for changes in flora and bird count stations for five minute bird counts.
The project has and will be the site for appropriate ecological research study. The site’s native flora has been fully assessed by the Wellington Botanical Society. The Department of Conservation has surveyed forest soil litter samples for native snail species. To date some 42 species have been identified. EcoGecko Consultants Ltd have been initially involved with the project and it is intended to use them to advise on the lizard component of the project. Bird counts have been conducted on site so information on species composition and their relative abundance is available. The site is already a seed source for the Kapiti Coast District Council for several native species and the potential to extend this aspect is considerable.
One of the projects aims to monitor changes in the invertebrate community as predator suppression levels are established using pitfall and hopefully malaise traps to assess changes in beetle species composition their relative abundance. This allows practical scientific sampling and assessment of changes of the overall invertebrate community. This project includes a number of biodiversity monitoring techniques that could potentially be an example of what can be achieved on relatively small restoration sites on private land.
For this aspect of the project adult Coleoptera species composition/abundance will be sampled as there is already much scientific literature on this and existing taxonomic research upon New Zealand’s Coleoptera species allows relatively accurate identification, especially Carabidae (ground beetles) species. Carabidae are the mostly heavily predated beetle group given that introduced mammalian predators also are mostly ground level hunters.
It is hoped that other research opportunities will be identified and implemented. The project has already provided some community involvement and educational opportunities for other land others, students and restoration projects, and this will hopefully increase over time.