Introduction

The most important lesson has been the proven effectiveness of stoat and possum control for preventing kaka extinction on the South Island mainland.

DOC staff using telemetry to track kiwi.
Tracking kiwi

The most important lesson has been the proven effectiveness of stoat and possum control for preventing kaka extinction on the South Island mainland. The results document the level of pest control necessary to sustain residual populations and this has immediate application elsewhere. It is likely that this finding is directly translatable to great spotted kiwi.

The options available for kiwi conservation have increased with the demonstrated success of wild to wild translocation of adult birds on the mainland. This work has also provided additional knowledge about great spotted kiwi behaviour with application for conservation work elsewhere.

Methods developed for wasp control on a landscape basis have proven to be successful. RNRP is believed to be the largest wasp control operation in the world (up to 1100 ha annually). Trials are now underway to test the effectiveness of wasp toxins using alternative configurations of bait dispensing stations, such as a lineal pattern rather than a grid pattern.

It is now possible to provide solid advice to community-led restoration projects on the relative effectiveness of various pest control regimes, and the biodiversity response that can be expected. These lessons have not all been palatable. For example, effective stoat control by itself allows rat numbers to increase beyond what could be expected if there was no control at all. This realisation has prompted cautionary advice to other restoration groups that have focused on mustelid control only.

Kotukutuku (tree fuchsia, Fuchsia excorticata).
Kotukutuku (tree fuchsia, Fuchsia
excorticata)

Research within the Rotoiti Nature Recovery Project (RNRP) has increased our understanding of the honeydew beech forest ecosystem and in particular:

  • The timing and magnitude of beech mast related phenomena (i.e. periodic seedfall).
  • How kaka time their breeding to coincide with a beech mast seedfall.
  • The annual fluctuation in wasp abundance and their impact on native invertebrates.
  • The impact of mammalian predators on birdlife.
  • The impact of introduced possums on vegetation.

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