December 2022 Newsletter


Over the past few years, a number of challenges have been thrown at the restoration project on Motutapu. With unprecendented weather events around the world, from serious droughts to dramatic flooding and heat waves to enormous wildfires, climate change is a reality. From three dry summers in a row on the island to a world-wide pandemic, the work of the Motutapu Restoration Trust (MRT) has been tested.

The 2020 and 2021 Covid related lockdowns followed by periods of uncertainty have severely restricted volunteer work from tree planting to weed control and nursery work. Unfortunately, in a lockdown, environmental weeds keep growing, spreading and choking, while ready-to-be-planted trees remain unplanted for another year and nursery production is much reduced. As a result of Covid the Trust’s weeding programme is now way behind where it could be. Dry summers and severe droughts (2020) are more common nowadays. With the free-draining volcanic soils covering Motutapu, dry periods can have a serious impact on native trees.

The prospect of more long dry summers means that planting planning and species selection is influenced by climate more than ever. The 2022 hillside planting was delayed until early June due to very dry soils. This meant that the hillside planting continued later into the year than was desirable. Fortunately some plants could be grounded in wetlands in May before the winter rains finally came.

On a more positive side, warmer winters allow native plants to have year-round growth, not just in summer. Planting long-lived native trees is more important than ever before as it helps combat climate change by sequestering carbon as well as creating native habitat for New Zealand’s special endemic wildlife. Native reforestation can contribute to the mitigation of carbon emissions as well as addressing biodiversity loss.

The rapidly maturing native Home Bay Forest is contributing to tackling climate change as well as achieving biodiversity gains. For these reasons the ecological restoration on Motutapu is so important.

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