The goals and objectives for this programme have gone through several iterations during the last ten years, although the direction has not changed significantly.
Eight guiding principles for mainland islands have been developed nationally. These principles acknowledge the tension between learning and retaining existing populations, and emphasise what mainland islands need to do well to achieve their principle purpose. The four principles that are most relevant to this site are:
Tree climbing for kaka
- Learn how to carry out ecological restoration while retaining biodiversity gains achieved.
Restoring viable populations of species can take considerable effort. Abandonment of such populations once the experiment is completed is undesirable for a number of reasons including maintaining public support for mainland island projects. Likewise, testing of new tools can be confounded when carried out in the presence of intensive management regimes aimed at retaining biodiversity. The eight national principles clearly state the importance of learning how to carry out ecological restoration, but also recognise the importance of specific projects aimed at restoring biodiversity through intensive management.
- No species should be allowed to go locally extinct.
Species are declining and some are going locally extinct on unmanaged sites on mainland New Zealand. Learning how to carry out ecological restoration to reverse such declines can involve applying treatments that benefit some species but not others. For example stoat control to protect kaka can result in increased rat abundance that can negatively impact on robin. While robins could disappear from the treatment area (in the short term) robins should not be allowed to go locally extinct within the local population range. In the long term, robins should be able to re-establish within the treatment area naturally or with assistance.
- Use applied science to learn.
Obtaining reliable knowledge is dependent on asking meaningful questions in the right order and testing them using robust study designs. Department of Conservation, Research and Development Group, the Technical Advisory Group and the Scientific Advisory Group can help formulate questions, while the Department’s field trial standard operating procedures provide a useful tool to ensure robust study design. Non-treatment blocks at the head of Lake Rotoiti and at Lake Rotoroa allow for confidence that the effects measured at treatment sites are real. Strong peer review by both advisory groups ensure that results are correctly interpreted.
- Share lessons learnt.
Lessons learnt at RNRP have value for other intensively managed sites nationally (e.g. Operation Ark sites, Kiwi Sanctuaries and private restoration projects). The New Zealand public is also more likely to support biodiversity management if they understand the issues and what is being achieved. These different audiences require knowledge transfer in different ways – quality reports, scientific publications and opportunities to experience restoration at Rotoiti.
From these guiding principles a goal and objectives were developed.
DOC staff showing kaka to school
To restore native biodiversity at Rotoiti, increase our knowledge of how to restore biodiversity nationally and increase public support for ecological restoration.
- Restore and maintain populations of kaka, mistletoe, Pittosporum patulum and large land snails (Powelliphanta spp.).
- Establish and maintain populations of great spotted kiwi and other native species.
- Test the effectiveness of rodent control tools in a beech forest system.
- Test the effectiveness of wasp control tools.
- Test the effectiveness of different translocation methods.
- Determine long-term trends in bird abundance and forest health in response to ongoing management.
- Systematically record observations of previously unreported native and non-native organisms in RNRP.
- Facilitate research to improve our understanding of the ecology and management of beech forest and alpine systems.
- Analyse and report on the effectiveness of management techniques and ensure that knowledge gained is transferred to the appropriate audiences to maximise conservation gain.
- Increase public knowledge, understanding and support for mainland islands and ecological restoration nationally through education, experience and participation.
- Kiwi Sanctuaries - on BNZ Save the Kiwi website