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Projects and progress

May 2015

Wilding Pine Control.

The first phase of controlling mature wilding pines in Abel Tasman National Park is complete.
Go to Latest News for before and after images.


Wilding pine control in Abel Tasman National Park
See our Latest News page for details.


Rata's rich red returned to Awaroa for Queen's Birthday

Queen's Birthday weekend (5 - 7 June) will provide the perfect opportunity for volunteers to plant 50 northern rata around the Awaroa estuary and peninsula - bringing the rich red of the native flowering rata flowers back to the district. Once flowering in summer, the rata will attract native birds back into the area.

The rata plants are part of a delivery of 100 being made to the Able Tasman Birdsong Trust from the Project Crimson. The remaining 50 plants will be planted out on Pitt Island in September. The Project Crimson, supported by Meridian Energy, has spent the past 20 years supporting community groups right right across New Zealand to protect and regenerate both rata and pohutakawa into their natural growing ranges - two native species that were in decline.

The ATBST, is delighted with the Project Crimson rata and is thrilled that the Trust, along with the Awaroa Ratepayers Association, can support Project Crimson's aim by returning some much needed red to the area.

"Our vision is to protect and enhance the biodiversity of our special area, attract more native birds and improve the experience of the many visitors we get into the Park and surrounding areas."

"The rich red flowers of the rata and pohutukawa are synonymous with our New Zealand summer and while this area used to be full of rata, their numbers have declined, along with the native birds. This is a wonderful way to promote their return."

Members of the local community who would like to volunteer to help with the rata planting in September should contact the Able Tasman Birdsong Trust. More information about Project Crimson can be found at www.projectcrimson.co.nz.

Insights from our science desk – Where to now with pest control?

With stoats now being regularly controlled (and rats taken as bycatch) by volunteers along the coastal track in the southern end of Abel Tasman National Park, the opportunity exists to look at how pest control in this area may be expanded.

Possum Control
Possums impact directly on native fauna via predation, and indirectly via the plants they eat. Possum numbers in the southern end of the Abel Tasman National Park are modest, but it makes good sense to reduce their population to levels that ensure their key prey and plant foods flourish.

The opportunity now exists to couple achievable possum control to the existing stoat trapping programme, by placing a kill-trap for possums alongside each stoat trap. Both stoat and possum traps could be serviced simultaneously, with little additional effort. The possum traps could also be baited for cats once a year, to provide for their limited control.

Rat control
Rats are thought to be more harmful directly and indirectly to native birds, reptiles and insects than possums. As well, any reduction of rat populations is also likely to reduce stoat populations as rats are their primary prey.

Rat numbers fluctuate annually, with years of heavy seed fall driving large increases in the numbers of rats and subsequently of stoats. Rat control focussed immediately adjacent to Adele and Fisherman’s Islands would provide additional protection for both islands by helping maintain low numbers of stoats on the adjacent mainland.

A line of killing devices set about 20 m apart along the bush edge behind the beach, and 1-2 lines 30 m apart into the forest would significantly reduce the population of rats between the coastal track and the foreshore. Control in late winter-early spring would provide protection for brooding and nestling birds, and if undertaken every 2-3 years, would allow a significant but beneficial cohort of young birds through into the population. Annual control would, of course, be better.

Kill-trapping or poisoning of rats with ground-laid bait is effective in controlling their numbers. Toxins with very limited secondary poisoning and residue problems are available.

Showing benefits
Volunteer trappers, concessionaires, and the public need to ‘see’ the benefits of any pest control work. Trapping results provides an index of animal abundance and a measure of ‘kill’. That said, the numbers of pests killed is not the aim of any control programme – rather it is to allow for the increase of native fauna and flora, and in this regard, bird counts in particular are critical to demonstrate the efficacy of the current trapping programme.

Five minute counts of birds are a useful tool but require trained counters. However, even single species counts along the coastal track by inexperienced folk will provide useful data.

The recent release of South Island robins on Adele Island and the likely move of some robins to the adjacent mainland provides an ideal opportunity for the public to input into the restoration programme by recording and reporting any robins they see on the mainland. Such information will provide useful data to back up ongoing pest control.


The really exciting part: We start protecting birds from predators and re-introducing species that have previously disappeared. Projects are still to be confirmed but are likely to include:

  • Financial support for possum and stoat control, Torrent Bay and Anchorage.
  • Stoat control from Anchorage to Tinline, to protect wildlife on the Astrolabe coast and Adele and Fisherman Islands.
  • Transfer two previously-lost bird species to Adele Island (provided this is confirmed as rodent-free).
  • Possum and wasp control around campgrounds, for the benefit of birds and campers.
  • And so much more, if donations are received!
  • 2008

  • Initial funding is provided by fees from tourism operators and donations from the public.
  • Conservation priorities and guidelines are agreed.
  • Tourism operators agree on a ‘Birdsong Fee’ to be paid by each, based on their 2008/09 visitor numbers. Rules and collection procedures are adopted.
  • Commitment to these by all of the main local operators – this arrangement is a first in New Zealand!
  • 2007

  • The Trust is launched in Marahau in December 2007, with the Ministers of Conservation and Tourism in attendance.


  • Tourism operators meet with DOC to explore ways to protect and enhance the Park and its native wildlife.



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