One of the Forest Lifeforce Restoration Trust’s principal projects in the Maungataniwha Native Forest involves increasing the wild-grown population of Kakabeak (Clianthus maximus) - an extremely rare type of shrub.
We’re undertaking a range of seed collection and propagation activity, both within our two protected propagation enclosures near Waiau Camp (designed to prevent access by browsing rabbits, hares and ungulates such as deer, pigs and goats) and at other sites around Hawke’s Bay.
Planting of the first Kakabeak returned to Maungataniwha took place during the winter of 2010. These seedlings were propagated from seeds we gathered with Department of Conversation (DOC) permission from plants within Te Urewera National Park.
We’re also refining a truly ground-breaking technique to enable us to propagate Kakabeak in the wild - blasting them into soil from a shotgun. We hope this innovation will allow future dispersal of seed from helicopters, creating the potential for an aerial propagation effort on a scale that hasn’t yet been possible.
One of our staff, Barry Crene, developed the technique using re-loaded shotgun shells packed with regular shotgun pellets, a pulp medium and Kakabeak seed. The shells are then discharged into soil from a range of 20 metres, about the distance a helicopter might have to hover from likely nursery sites in the wild.
Such sites are frequently patches of topsoil on bluffs or cliff faces that are as inaccessible to humans as they are to browsers. Helicopters are often the only way to reach them.
Before settling on the shotgun technique we reviewed a range of discharge mechanisms, including paintball guns. But shotguns proved best able to provide the directional force, accuracy and penetration necessary for the seeds to propagate successfully.
Our work on restoring viable populations of wild-grown Kakabeak is supported not only by the DOC and the iwi at nearby Lake Waikaremoana, but also through funding from the public conservation funding organisation, the Biodiversity Conditions Fund.
© Forest Lifeforce Restoration Trust.