The three goals of Matuku Link for biodiversity are: protecting & enhancing, restoration and education. Enhancing is done by planting, restoration by planting and weeding and education is the foundation underneath all our group visits. But the most important part of what we do is protecting. Protecting our native flora and fauna from getting eaten, basically. This is the same for Habitat te Henga, Ark in the Park, the Ark Bufferzone and Forest Ridge: all the neighbouring projects Matuku Link, well… links to!
And protecting unfortunately means killing things: baiting and trapping to get rid of rats, possums, stoats, ferrets, weasels and hedgehogs to name a few. Research at Ark in the Park showed that the larger an area is, the better the “core” is protected: the invasion by predators is highest in the first 100 metres. That is why ‘buffers’ around high value biodiversity areas are so important: the core area will be better protected. In a way, Matuku Link’s 37 hectares are the ‘buffer’ for the 120 hectares of Matuku Reserve, and the predator control on the private properties on Forest Ridge are the ‘buffer’ for Matuku Link on its northern boundary.
A small team of very dedicated trappers look after traplines on Matuku Reserve and Matuku Link, making sure traps are checked, reset and rebaited at least every fortnight. The baiting team adds to the protection by refilling almost 300 bait stations every couple of months. But how do we know this is working? Our friends from Auckland Zoo have started monitoring September 2018, repeated that in May 2019 and did it again just recently at the beginning of November. And our trappers and baiters should be very proud: even though it is a mast year with lots of food around (to feed our birds as well as rats!), the numbers went from 69% rats to 27% to 20% in this last round. YEAH!!!
But it isn’t actually about how much we catch, it is about how well our native flora and fauna is doing. You might remember two years ago 5 kiwi were released in the Hunua Ranges and 2 were killed by one ferret in their first week. So how are we tracking in our area? It is difficult to get hard data because we are not surveying all of our native birds regularly. But at least we’ve seen some of our pateke breed and raise their ducklings to fully grown adults. And the third puweto (spotless crake) survey is planned in a couple of months. For now, we should just enjoy the spring bird chorus and know that the chances they are getting predated are less then what they were without our hard working volunteers.
A special thanks to our trappers (alphabetically): Barbara, Carly, Cliff, John, Eric, Ken, Marjolijn, Wayne, Sue and baiters Andrew, Anko, Craig, Lisa, Lissa, Jill, Jeremy, John Sum, John Stan, Josie, Matt, Stefan, Stuart, with help from Sian and John for monitoring, Lisa and Craig for bagging bait, Ken for repairing traps and all the others who make sure the whole operation works well, doing things like supplying eggs, ordering bait, taping lines, clearing tracks, refilling A24’s, making maps, entering data…. and so much more!
Annalily – on behalf of all our creatures out there