Micro-site planting

The term as used by the Friends of Maara Roa means:

"a selected area, usually small, suitable for the planting of specific trees deemed necessary to restore the bio-diversity of the forest cover, as near as possible to the original forest of the valley."

Micro-sites are NOT:

"light-wells cut in dense gorse, or any cleared area which happens to be small in size or convenient for humans.  Sites such as these may look obvious, but in fact require colonising (first-stage revegetation) species to be grown for some years before the soil conditions are going to be either ideal, or successful sustainably.

The species of interest would include emergents or forest dominants such as the podocarps:

  • rimu (Dacrydium cupressinum)
  • totara (Podocarpus totara)
  • kahikatea (Dacrycarpus dacryoides)
  • miro (Prumnopitys ferruginea)
  • matai (Promnopitys taxifolia);

and broadleafs:

  • rewarewa (Knightia excelsa)
  • pukatea (Laurelia novae-zealandiae)
  • northern rata (Metrisideros robusta)

These trees, mostly removed as lumber by early settlers, usually provide the upper canopy of the forest, protective of the mid-canopy species such as tawa and kohekohe which form the current remnants, with pigeonwood, lancewood and other naturally regenerating species.

The numbers of nikau (Rhopalostylis sapida) need to be increased in our valley.  From ongoing studies we will learn which "missing species" should be planted here.  (Andrew has provided a provisional list.)  For example, in 2011 a healthy kiekie (Freycinetia banksii) was found - it was previously unknown in the valley! 

Note that most of these species do not grow, or survive if planted, under dense gorse.

Note also that the native birds found in our valley are not likely / necessarily going to be the carriers of seeds from some of these species, nor are there sufficient stands of these trees in other areas nearby, to enable natural generation and seed dispersal by other means.

Layers within NZ native forest.

Layers within NZ native forest.  [Source: DOC]

The significance of planned microsite plantings therefore lies in:

  1. Bio-diversity: strengthening the genetic health of any existing stock of that species, so as to increase its numbers and its regenerative potential.
  2. Selection of sites known to be suitable for the particular species, e.g. pukatea and kahikatea in damp areas, nikau palms in gullies with reasonable sun and shelter; northern rata in areas with both shelter and light; totara in groves or adjacent sites.
    Soil conditions and depth, the availability of forest litter and forest humus is also crucial to the success of such trees, as they require the right types of bacterial, fungal and insect populations also to be in place.
  3. Monitoring is made easier by mapping of the said sites and keeping records of planting success or failure.

Nature's patterns need to be studied, respected, and copied.

There is nothing in this policy to discourage the planting of individual trees of these important species among colonising species as has been found already; the whole Maara Roa area is relatively compact and can be seen as one large site.

However, the importance of eventually creating a self-sustaining forest is such that a deliberate policy for planned and monitored micro-sites to be maintained, is the apex of our restoration objective for the Valley.

Micro-sites should be selected, planned and approved ahead of time, so that when seed stock or plants of such species become available (as in mast years, for example), the sites already selected can be prepared, released and otherwise made ready for the particular species concerned.

Specialised plantings of this kind may have particular appeal to conservation groups such as Forest and Bird, university and other tertiary students, botanical and environmental organisations and the like, whose interest in planting only colonising species is limited, and who can understand the principles of maintaining bio-diversity in this Valley and others in the region.

Micro-sites established in the valley

Northern rata, flowering before December 2012

Northern rata,
first sighted flowering before December 2012

  1. Rata Clearing and environs: approx. 300 northern rata planted in 2003 (Project Crimson grant).  For more details, see the webpage Rata Clearing Micro-site.
  2. Nikau Grove (Cascade Creek): 50 planted 2007 upstream of the Rata Clearing.
    Two new sites were identified upstream of the Cannons Creek bridge in 2012 in the "Save the Maara Roa Nikau Competition". (2 present, 1 planted.)
  3. Rewarewa Fringe: along the upper and lower edges of the Tawa Finger among colonisers, 10 or 11 trees planted 2005.
  4. Totara Knoll: on a hillock on the west side of the Maara Roa track (previously known as Broom Knoll), planting of totara to create a grove over time among colonisers.  Broom is being removed.
  5. Cascade Wetland: at the junction of Maara Roa track and Cascade Creek, formerly known as Blue Drums, 560 wetland species planted in 2012.  For more details, see the webpage Cascade Wetland species and planting details.
  6. Kiekie sites: Kiekie need to be near mature forest trees in order to access the sunlight of the canopy.  See more details about Kiekie sites and planting details.

Not all of these sites have yet been fully monitored or recorded.

They are not publicly accessible.  Please email info@MaaraRoa.org.nz.