I stopped and just breathed in the peacefulness. The light filtering through the trees seemed gentle. And I gave thanks that I get to come to this lovely place so often. Even when my mission for the day is to scrub out the toilet facilities.
I drove past a flash of red and had to back up to see what it was. Was it there yesterday? By the number of flowers on the little rata tree it must have been. But I wonder why it is so late in flowering? I'd expect to see them in summer, November to January. I'm pretty sure it is a rata. I'll try to get a closer shot of a flower tomorrow.
I take it for granted, was probably away with the fairies as I've driven past this tree in the past couple of weeks. The Tangihua Forest really is a beautiful place!
As possum populations have built up in forest areas, there has been a corresponding loss of rata. Possums eat a wide range of plants, but show strong preferences for some species like the rata and rata trees cannot tolerate browsing. A mature tree can be killed in three years with intensive browsing and even young trees, although they can survive for longer, will eventually die if browsed regularly.
I know my Australian family find it hard to believe how much damage our native possums can do to a New Zealand forest. They are a pest here. I used to find it hard to have ill feeling towards them especially when I remember my grandmother and her successive generations of pet possums.
But the damage they do to our beautiful forests really gets at me and I support whole-heartedly the pest eradication and forest conservation programme that the Lions Lodge Trust for whom I work are getting up and running. They have worked very hard to raise the money needed to support their efforts. They aim to have about 2,000 ha under management in the next 2 years.
Some trappers are moving in next week to kick off the programme. Before the eradication of possums and rats can start, they need to lay out 400 ha of bait stations. As always there's a lot of groundwork to be done first like setting up grid systems laying out tracks and markers.
They now have $100,000 worth of funding, the support of the Department of Conservation, the World Wildlife Fund and the Regional Council. Now they need help from those who are prepared to put the time in to make this a successful project. I aim to do what I can.
This forest is beautiful and the only forest left that has no Kauri Dieback and we are very proud of that. But it is way too silent. There is very little birdsong. We must do something to get rid of the introduced pests. And we must do it now before any more damage is done and it really is too late.
Sorry, I went off on a bit of a tangent there. Knew it would happen sooner or later. It's been a while since I felt so passionately about anything.