Start your bush restoration project
IntroductionOnce you have an understanding of the bush, take the next steps in starting your restoration project. Getting to know your site and making a good plan before you start work will help ensure success.
Once you have an understanding of the bush, take the next steps in starting your restoration project. Getting to know your site and making a good plan before you start work will help ensure success.
In thinking about the site you want to restore, consider its location in relation to the wider catchment, the distance to the nearest patch of bush (as the crow flies) and the potential to create 'stepping stones' for native birds. Is the site 'stand alone' or part of a larger area of forest?
Look at the physical features of the site – aspect, slope, soil type, drainage and climate.
Think about the following aspects of the site:
- What is the existing vegetation?
- Is there substantial native bush cover or large areas of grass and weeds?
- Site conditions will influence the selection of plant species to plant.
- Some native plants like a dry sunny site, others a damp shady place and putting plants in the right place will help them survive.
- Try to use plant material from the site, growing plants and seeds collected onsite.
- Is there a botanical report for the site or any similar native bush nearby?
- Are there any threatened plants known to be present that require special attention?
(Check with your local DOC office).
- What wildlife has been seen in the area?
- While birds are more obvious, don't forget about other species, such as bats, lizards, weta and other invertebrates.
- Other natural features
- What other natural features are there such as rocky outcrops or caves or streams, ponds and wetlands that could be home for native fish?
- Cultural, historic or visitor sites
- Are there any cultural or historic sites associated with Maori or early European occupation?
- What public use is made of the restoration site (or the larger bush area as the case may be)?
Identify the characteristics/issues associated with the site – the reasons why your group is probably considering undertaking restoration!
These are likely to include:
- Invasive weeds.
- Animal pests.
- Problems with stock grazing.
- Wind exposure.
- Difficulties with access.
- Past human modifications that may need to be reversed e.g. deep drains lowering the water table.
- Other uses, such as grazing or recreational use.
If your natural area contains rare or endangered species, determine their needs and threats to ensure that the area can support minimum viable populations of these species.
List the main threats and then when you are clear on what you want to achieve for this site, determine what actions will be needed.
State clearly why the restoration is taking place – what is it you want to achieve? For example, do you want to see:
- Ecological processes recovering?
- Wildlife numbers increased?
- Erosion stabilised?
You may want to hold a special meeting of your group to work through the vision so you are all working to the same goal. Then list the various things that need to be done, in what order, to achieve your vision e.g.:
- Pest control
The tasks may vary across the site so it could help to draw up a concept plan illustrating what is proposed, where.
If it is a large site, you may want to divide the restoration area into manageable zones (especially for weed control and planting), either on the basis of approximately what can be managed each year with the resources available or by some broad topographic feature.
In the case of animal pest control, it may be preferable to do the whole area to minimise reinvasion. Don't forget to look at what is happening outside the area – getting adjoining landowners on board could make a difference to the success of your project.