Kiwis for kiwi is on high alert as extensive seed sampling across the country in February and March points to the biggest beech mast for more than 40 years.
Forest seeding provides a bonanza of food for native species but also fuels rodent and stoat plagues that will pose a serious threat to kiwi and other wildlife as predator populations build up next spring and summer.
The Department of Conservation (DOC) is planning its largest-ever predator control programme for 2019/2020 to respond to the threat posed by the mega mast. Over one million hectares or 12 per cent of conservation land will undergo a targeted programme at a cost of $38 million.
DOC’s seed sampling programme involved snipping branches by helicopter from over 8000 beech and rimu trees at nearly 200 sites across the North and South Islands and counting more than three million seed pods from 43,000 samples. More than 1000 tussock plants were also monitored at 63 sites.
We need to act – and act immediately – to ensure our wildlife are safe and our precious taonga are not further endangered by this quirk of nature.
Photo credit: Bryce Williamson