Waitakere wetland walk, 2012 edition


World Wetland Day in early February? - Yes we did that last year and although 300 people came, numerically the most common attendees were the mosquitoes. We decided this year then to celebrate wetlands at a more civilised time so Sunday April 1 saw Waitakere Forest and Bird members placing safety cones, Event signs, parking area indicators and taking chairs, tables stands, posters, and other equipment across the paddock to the display site.

Forest and Bird’s Matuku sanctuary bordering the Te Henga Wetland is usually only accessible from a difficult track but our generous neighbour opened his access across the river for the day. Several gazebos were quickly erected to house the displays of Auckland Council Biosecurity, Waitakere Rivercare group, A’Rocha Christian Conservation group, Forest & Bird, and National Wetland Trust [with Kristy Hall in charge!].

On a warm, rain-free day over 250 people came between 9.30am and 4.00pm exploring not only the trail along the wetland edge but also along the tracks leading to Matuku’s other special sites: the waterfall, the views from lookout platforms, the regenerating kauri forest.

Fernbirds, usually quite noticeable, were obviously subdued into silence due to the numerous visitors but bush birds in the adjacent 90 year-old regenerating forest were vocal. One visible feature was a carpet of pre-autumn leaf fall under willows along the riverside.

Willow and other pest weed control is an ongoing concern of the Council Biosecurity Department while F&B recently started controlling willow along their wetland edge with drill and inject of larger trees; cutting and pasting for smaller stems. Initial trials of a hand held corer seem promising allowing herbicide to be injected into holes cored out with a long metal implement- our F&B branch commissioned this to see if manual control was possible as the petrol powered hole borers used by contractors are expensive, unwieldy and have refuelling and maintenance issues.

With the treated willows dropping leaves it seems that the technique is successful and F&B volunteers will be out again next spring tackling the more accessible willows leaving those accessible only by boat to Council contractors.

John Sumich

Having a chat 2 or young and old enjoying the track