Assessing bush health
IntroductionFind out how to assess the health of the area you want to restore.
When assessing the health of your bush, start with an assessment of the forest floor.
- Is there a thick layer of leaves present or is the earth bare?
- Push aside some leaves and look for signs of insect life. Can you see any?
- Are lots of seedlings present? Are the seedlings the same as the canopy species?
- Has the soil been compacted by stock entering the forest?
- Are there any possum, goat or deer droppings?
Work your way up the forest layers looking for signs of animal browsing and damage. Look for:
- Scratches and claw marks from possums on tree trunks.
- Leaves partly eaten or simply chewed off e.g. five-finger.
- Broken or chewed fern fronds.
- Are there many plants below the canopy or can you see a considerable distance through the bush?
Look at the plants present. Possums have particular favourites they will usually eat first, including: kohekohe, northern and southern rata, kamahi, pohutukawa, five-finger, mahoe and totara. Are these species present? What condition are they in?
Can flowers, fruit and seeds be seen on the trees? (The edge of the bush is a good place to look.) In some places you may notice exotic weeds growing in patches, or smothering vines taking over the canopy. These are signs that all is not well within the forest.
Listen for the sound of the birds. Can you hear or see fantail, bellbird, grey warbler, tui or kereru?