Awahuri Forest to be precise. It’s one of the few remaining remnants of lowland podocarp swamp forest surviving in the region. I use the word “surviving” with caution. The forest has been devastated by introduced animals and plants, and without human intervention, all native species, both plant and animal would disappear within a hundred years, probably sooner, and be replaced by exotic species.
Rats and possums are currently the target of trapping and poisoning programs as both species predate on native bird and plant life that has evolved over 80 million years in the absence of mammalian predation. There are reminders at the entrance to the forest that for our own safety it is necessary to keep to the paths.
Currently plant control is concentrating on the removal of willow trees, bamboo and tradescantia fluminensis, the latter carpeting the forest floor preventing the regeneration of native plants from the few seeds that rats and possums don’t consume. Birdsong is often being interrupted by the sound of chainsaws attacking the willow.
There’s also an active replanting program and thousands of native plants have already been planted, with many more thousands planned.
What saddens me is the thoughtlessness of some visitors to the forest. The sole surviving silver fern is dying due to people removing fronds. When the wife and I visited the forest yesterday, workers were building a fence around it to protect it from “human predation”. But as one of the workers commented to me, it’s probably too little to late to save it. It’s really sad because just a few kilometers away there’s hundreds of silver fern growing, and while not quite as convenient (no adjacent boardwalk) they are readily accessible.
We try to visit the forest at least once each week, depending on the weather. There’s little wind under the forest canopy so unless there’s rain it’s alway pleasant, even if a little chilly. And the smells of the forest are so delightful. So here’s a few images from walks the wife and I have made though the forest in recent weeks.