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The Tuff Crater Restoration Project
Tuff Crater is an extinct volcano, which last erupted 200,000 years ago, when the Waitemata Harbour was merely a river. As sea level rose, the crater breached. It is now a tidal estuary supporting a host of wildlife including breeding kotare (kingfisher), breeding Australasian harrier(kahu) and banded rail/moho-pereru (naturally uncommon).
The 35ha reserve surrounding the crater contains some quality mixed - broadleaf (kohekohe, puriri, kanuka and kowhai) forest, but is otherwise heavily weed infested. The reserve supports some 39 bird species, 110 insect species including 65 moth species, 105 native plant species and 120 non-native plant species. The crater drains in and out of Shoal Bay which is a “site of special wildlife interest” supporting a diverse population of shorebirds including NZ dotterel and banded dotterel.
The Restoration To Date
The Tuff Crater Restoration Project is the major project of North Shore Branch of Forest & Bird. Restoration at Tuff Crater commenced in 1999 as a Millennium Project with the planting of bare grass on the slopes adjacent to the motorway below the Warehouse head office. Annual planting has seen this site now established and is now monitored for weeds by Forest & Bird volunteers.
In 2009 a formal restoration plan for the reserve was written by Te Ngahere Native Forest Management with input from Forest & Bird. The reserve has been divided into 8 management units (MU 1-8)
Weed control work in the main crater commenced in 2009 with spraying of large areas of pampas, destruction by mulching of multiple weed trees and injecting of privet and phoenix palm trees in the tanks 1-3 area north side (MU7). Volunteer control of privet and elaeagnus was followed by planting of 2400 plants in 2010.
Further spraying of pampas, climbing asparagus and privet drilling occurred in tanks 4 to 6 area, north side (MU7) in 2010 with planting of a further 2000 plants in 2011 and 5000 plants in 2012.
Spraying of tanks 7 to 9 extended the controlled area along the north side in 2011 (MU6). Recent weed control efforts on the north side include ongoing contractor maintenance control of pampas, climbing asparagus, ivy, and bindweed and drilling of willows in 2012.
Since 2012 the north side has been gradually tamed and planted. Now only isolated areas need planting as we tackle the huge drifts of elaeagnus there.
On the south east side (MU2) the headland kohekohe forest has now been under contractor weed control since 2010. What was an area dominated by tradescantia, moth plant, elaeagnus, privet and hawthorne is now almost weed free. Natural regeneration is being encouraged.
Control is now being extended west along the south boundary (MU3) by contractor control of a heavily infested area containing jasmine, privet, ginger but also some good native vegetation. Limited planting occurred here in 2014
On the southwest side (MU4) we have been funding Arundo (giant reed) control since 2013. From 2014 we extended control to all of MU4 targeting ginger, arum lily and tradescantia in particular. A large area was planted here in 2013.
The weediest area at the northwest area (MU5) is is now under weed control, with pest tree removal and planting in 2015
Forest & Bird North Shore Branch has managed this entire project on a volunteer basis, seeking quotes for weed control and plants and coordinating and managing the contracts. In addition we hold regular volunteer weed control and planting events. Initially on weekends only, there is now a keen regular weekday working group. Volunteer hours recorded are
2010 - 1216,
2011 - 1327,
2012 – 1709.
2013 - 2000
2014 - 1800
Our volunteer list includes about 160 members and local residents. Local residents have been circulated about the project twice and are encouraged to control weeds on the adjacent land.
We have had volunteer input from North Harbour Rotarians including assistance with resource consents, surveying, labour and BBQs.
Pest monitoring and control
A pest monitoring program has been running for 2 years, showing high levels of rats. A volunteer branch led pest control program commenced in 2013 to complement the dotterel protection program along the Northern motorway and extensive pest control planned by council biosecurity team along the western edge of Shoal Bay primarily to protect the shorebirds. Monitoring indicates this predator control program is working.
Once muddy and impassable in winter, the tracks around the north side Tuff Crater have been upgraded by a project managed by Forest & Bird and funded by the Kaipatiki Local Board and Lion Foundation. Further track upgrade work, including the new zig zag track and access to The Warehouse Way, 3 new seats and 2 lookout points was completed in 2013/14.
Bird counts are performed at intervals.
The main monitoring is by the use of photopoints.
North Shore Branch