Hopes of re-establishing an important local environment in degraded Tamahere gullies have been given a boost with a report by native plant restoration specialist Wayne Bennett.
Bennett, owner of Waikato-based Forest Flora, has studied the 10ha Mangaone Gully in the Rosebanks Drive, Bollard Rd and Cherry Lane area, which he describes as a rare but “acutely threatened” example of a forest and wetland environment that once covered the Waikato.
The gully is one of the few places where an all but vanished ecosystem could be restored, he suggests.
The Mangaone Gully is in the heart of the Hamilton Ecological District within the Waikato district where only 1.6% of the land remains in natural vegetation.
“Mangaone gully flows in a northwest direction, parallel to SH1 in Tamahere before joining with the Mangaharakeke then the Mangaonua gully system and flowing into the Waikato River at Riverlea,” Bennett says.
In 1840 the area was covered in indigenous secondary growth vegetation and has since been cleared for farming and more recently residential subdivision, he says.
“Few examples of kahikatea swamp forest with unaltered hydrology still exist in the Waikato Lowlands. The Mangaone gully offers an ideal opportunity to re establish an example of this acutely threatened ecosystem.”
Restoring natural floral patterns and processes is important not only for its own sake but also to aid the return of native birds to the city and surrounding countryside, Bennett says.
The Mangaone stream also provides suitable habitat for native fish including short finned eel, kokupu, inanga and mud fish.
Bennett’s report (copy below) was commissioned by the Waikato District Council at the request of local gully restoration enthusiasts, informally known as the Tamahere Gully Care Group. Local members include Jan Simmons and Leo Koppens.
The report will form part of the structure plan review for Tamahere, which council is currently undertaking.
“The report shows that there are some serious issues to be tackled and gives the council ideas about what it should be doing as carers of the esplanade land along the stream,” said Leo Koppens, who accompanied Bennett in his gully survey.
The gully care group is working with the council to work out how to implement Bennett’s suggestions on how to assist landowners adjoining the gully to restore native vegetation. Similar restoration projects have been carried out in Hamilton city in recent years, Koppens said.
A group of locals attended a gully restoration workshop in October hosted by the Waikato Biodiversity Forum. Earlier story here.
Click the following link to download Bennett’s report (pdf): Mangaone gully Tamahere study