Exposure to the Elements

With all timber trees removed in the early milling days, the land cleared and burned to create pasture for stock farming, the bush that survived was only in pockets in steep gullies, and lacked canopy trees.  Sheer exposure to the elements, especially salt-laden winds on species such as tawas and kohekohe, is sufficient to kill off the remnants from the exposed edges, each dead tree further exposing the next tree and so on.  The ostensibly protected "remnants" in the Cannons Creek Covenant have been dying off successively in this manner over the last 100 years.

Hence the efforts of the Friends to plant quick growing species along the exposed forest fringes.

Gorse-covered hillside

Gorse-covered hillside awaiting restoration

Native forest was replaced by imported species, notably gorse.  It spread from the farmland into the gullies, taking over steep areas which proved too difficult for sheep or cattle.  These areas were burnt from time to time by farm managers intending to recapture the land, but finally were given up as a waste of money, and "retired".

The gorse was left to its own devices and rapidly spread to form an immense nursery for native trees.  As is well known, species such as tahoe (whiteywood) and wineberry will regenerate through gorse, encouraged by its nitrogen-fixing ability, and finally kill it by creating an evergreen canopy above the maximum height of the gorse, which, sun-starved, then can no longer flower and seed.  This process is happening throughout the Valley beginning in each little gully and spreading up the slopes of each spur.

The Restoration Plan recognised and builds on this natural regeneration by proposing "enhancement" planting of second-stage regeneration species such as pittosporum sp, titoki, tawa, kohekohe, pigeonfoot etc in and around these areas, to hasten the diversity of the bush.