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News from Project Janszoon - Summer 2016 / issue 14

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In this issue   Pateke release, Summer wasp control, Farewell to Wendy, Student Advisory Board grows up, Weed update, Gannets play hard to get, The browning of wilding pines, Cheers to volunteers  
Message from Devon McLean
 
As 2016 draws to a close I would like to thank everyone involved with Project Janszoon for the time, energy and commitment they have given this year.
 
It is heartening to see how many people are supporting the project, from the concession operators and bach owners, to iwi, Abel Tasman Birdsong Trust members, many volunteers and the dedicated Janszoon and DOC teams.  We are always looking for ways to involve people in the restoration of the Park, and this year have included a “have you seen this” area to the smart phone app so visitors can report bird and pests to us.  The more we know about what is happening in the Park, the better we can manage its restoration.
 
This year great inroads have been made towards securing the Park from weeds and invasive predators. Apart from some careful work to be completed on the maritime pine block above Bark Bay the wilding control project, so ably driven by the Birdsong Trust, has moved into the maintenance phase. Around 19,000 ha of the Abel Tasman is now stoat trapped and the recently completed 842 ha Falls River intensive protection area is the first phase of a zone that will ultimately provide a safe corridor for the birds at the top of the Park to link with the coast. The successful September 1080 pest control operation in the north of the park has also provided a vital breathing space for plants, birds and invertebrates. 
 
2017 will see more k
ākā and kākāriki released and we will have our first pateke translocation mid-year, at Hadfield Clearing behind Awaroa.  The restoration planting at Hadfield Clearing is going well, and we are getting great feedback about the Firesmart and dune restoration work. This will be extended next year and some initial thinking is coming together for restoration work at the Awaroa "people’s" Beach.
 
After four years shaping our education programme Wendy Reeve is moving on to new challenges and I want to acknowledge and thank her for her diligence and skill in developing this leading edge initiative.  We have recently completed an independent review of the programme and will be looking to work closely with DOC as we incorporate the learnings from this and other environmental education work around the country as we take this effort forward. 
 
I wish you a happy Christmas with your friends and family and I hope you get the opportunity to enjoy the Park over summer.
In brief....

Smart phone app

Don't forget you can now use the smart phone app to report sightings of birds, mistletoe, weeds and even predators.  To download for free, search for Abel Tasman in your Google Play or Apple store.

Annual report 
 
View copies of the 2016 annual report here

Want to join the planting team ?
 
There are opportunities for more volunteers for 2017.  Contact Helen Lindsay
Pāteke coming to Awaroa

New Zealand’s rarest duck will be re-introduced into the Abel Tasman National Park next year.
 
There are only around 2,500 pāteke or brown teal left in New Zealand, with only one small population in the South Island near Milford Sound.  Pāteke are endemic to New Zealand and in pre-human times are thought to have been the country’s most widespread and numerous waterfowl.
Planning is underway to release 20 of the birds in May at Hadfield Clearing, behind the Awaroa Estuary. Early next year Project Janszoon and DOC will establish a new pond there, in addition to the ditches and waterways.
 
“They are adaptable grazing ducks which love pasture and allow people to walk right up to them so if the population establishes the public will get a wonderful opportunity to view this rare duck in the Park,” says ornithologist Pete Gaze.
 
The stoat trapping network and recent aerial 1080 operation in this area should provide an environment where the birds have every chance to thrive.  The birds will have radio transmitters fitted so we can follow their movements.
The buzz on wasp control
 
Wasp control will be extended across the Great Walk again this summer.
 
It is likely the wasp operation will take place in February when the wasps move into their protein phase.  Once again we will use Vespex®, a protein bait that contains the commonly used insecticide fipronil, which targets wasps and is not attractive to bees.  The wasps take the bait back to their nests to feed their larvae, destroying entire nests from one bait-station. 
Similar to 2016, this year the control area will include 46km of the Abel Tasman Coast Track, around 17 campsites and four huts, over 110 ha at Pitt Head and 736 ha in the Falls River Block.  The hillside behind Torrent Bay will also be added to the control area. 
 
The Abel Tasman Birdsong Trust will undertake wasp control on Pitt Head, Anchorage, Torrent Bay village (on behalf of the residents) and along the track from Tinline to Holyoakes.   If wasp numbers are high enough they will also do control at Motuareronui/Adele Island.   (read more)

Wilding pines a "ticking time bomb"
 
Visitors will notice some very red trees above Bark Bay this summer. Major progress has been made, with more than 70 ha of wilding pines treated over the last four years.
 
While the initial stand of maritime pine (Pinus pinaster) in this area was just over 30ha, its ability to spread rapidly saw it double in size with experts warning it could easily triple without control. 
 
The first pinaster are thought to have been planted on the Homestead Flats at Bark Bay in the late 1800s.  Spread began when the original settlers, the Huffam family, abandoned the area in 1904, taking their domestic animals with them. More distant spread appears to have occurred after 1940 when trees became established on the ridgelines – a seed ‘take-off’ point.

Operations Manager Andrew Macalister says more than 70 ha and associated spread has been treated over the last four years, initially as part of an Abel Tasman Birdsong Trust programme and more recently by Project Janszoon and DOC. You can easily see the two operations below.
“The site was a ticking time bomb. When we started control, we encountered huge numbers of young pines under the kanuka canopy from Bare Knob through to Mosquito Cove. Without intervention, the ridgelines in this area would have eventually turned into a wilding pine forest. Being able to avert this slow-motion train wreck has been an unglamorous task, but a major step forward in the restoration of this part of the Park,” he says.
 
Only 6 ha of the pines are now left near the DOC campsite.  A decision about whether to commit to the full removal of the forest will be made next year. DOC is also looking at removing pines at Apple Tree Bay, which will open up restoration potential at this site.
 
Volunteers making a difference
 
Visitors to the Park this year will notice a lot of work has gone into removing gorse and replanting dunes at some of the Park’s beaches.
 
DOC has been responsible for removing gorse but a team of around 23 local volunteers, including members of the Abel Tasman Birdsong Trust, have regularly assisted with dune planting, weeding and plant maintenance.
 
“Some of the more dedicated helpers have come back many times to help with planting on the beaches and then weeding around the plantings afterwards.  They deserve a huge thanks and the best part is visitors are really starting to notice the difference which makes it all worthwhile,” says Project Janszoon restoration supervisor Helen Lindsay.
 
Gorse is highly flammable so its removal reduces the risk of fires in the Park.  Motueka High School is also very active with maintaining the plantings at their adopted site at Anchorage and 40 volunteers from the Air New Zealand Green Team helped out with planting at Apple Tree Bay. 
 
Thanks also to volunteers who have helped with planting at Hadfield Clearing including students from the Pacific Development Trust and Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology and members of the Nelson/Tasman branch of Forest and Bird.  Motupipi School have also organised planting at their Adopt a Section area at Wainui sandspit.
Volunteers plant at Anchorage, Photo Dave Buckton / One Shot
Weed team has a busy year

The Project Janszoon weed team has had a busy year with a focus on eradicating some weeds, and containing and assessing others.  With the Abel Tasman Birdsong Trust completing its two year weed programme Project Janszoon has taken on the work of controlling the worst remaining weeds in the Park.
Annual follow up work has been undertaken at Totaranui, Awaroa and coastal sites between Onetahuti and Marahau to control target species that were either missed or sprung up after the initial control.  African Club Moss (selaginella) has been treated using bleach on tracksides leading out of Totaranui to ensure it can be contained so it won’t spread further into the Park.  “This is a weed that is easily spread by spores and stem fragments on the boats of trampers and is hard to control,” says DOC bio-diversity ranger Dan Chisnall. 

2017 will see a focus on eradicating tradescantia (wandering willie) and periwinkle throughout the Park.  The weed team is also aiming for zero density of silver wattle at Anchor Bay and Awaroa.  They have also undertaken a survey at Awaroa to get an understanding of how far holly and cotoneaster has spread from the settlement, and continue to remove any of these species found in the Park.
 
A big thanks must go to the bach owners who have been open to working with Project Janszoon to remove problem plants from the private land.  Together, we can restore the Abel Tasman.


The photo shows DOC biodiversity rangers Amanda Harvey (white helmet) and Darren Foxwell (red helmet) checking for boxthorn on the Taupo Pt rock stacks.
Student Advisory Board grows up
 
The Student Advisory Board (SAB) has decided on a name change to better reflect its role and will become the Abel Tasman Youth Ambassadors / Pokai Rangatahi in 2017.
 
The SAB student leadership team was launched in 2015 as part of the education programme. Each Adopt a Section partner school has four student representatives, and new iwi youth representatives have recently joined.
 
“After two years, we felt it was a good time to reflect on what has worked well? What needs to be tweaked? Nothing was off-limits, including the name Student Advisory Board,” says Education Advisor Wendy Reeve.
 
The feedback was the main function of the student leadership team has been as ambassadors for the Park. A Maori translation has also been included.  Pokai Rangatahi means a group of young leaders or ambassadors. 
Farewell to Wendy Reeve
 
After four years as Project Janszoon’s education advisor Wendy Reeve has decided to move on.
 
Wendy deserves much of the credit for the success of the education project which has seen the establishment and development of the ‘Adopt a Section’ programme with three pilot schools, and the student leadership team. 
“Wendy has made a huge contribution to this innovative project.  Her vision for where this idea might lead, her attention to detail and her passion for young people and their relationship to the special places in the Abel Tasman have inspired us all, says Devon McLean.
 
Wendy says it was a big decision to step back from her role, but she believes the change of leadership will herald an exciting time. “While I’ve been with the programme since before there was a programme, I trust that new energy and perspective will bring more positive outcomes that will build on what has been started and further future-proof the work of Project Janszoon,” she says. 


DOC biodiversity ranger Brooke Turner, and Project Janszoon team members will continue to work with the Adopt a Section programme in 2017.
Gannets playing hard to get
 
They say good things take time and that is proving to be the case when it comes to establishing a gannet colony at Separation Point.
 
Project Janszoon and DOC installed decoy gannets and began playing bird calls at Separation Point in 2014 in the hope it would encourage real gannets to land and nest there.  There is a gannet colony at nearby Farewell Spit with around 5,000 pairs.  This is the largest colony in New Zealand and in time an overflow of birds will need somewhere else to breed.
 
Project Janszoon ornithologist Pete Gaze says the Farewell Spit colony is vulnerable.  “Separation Point is a good site as it’s within site of Farewell Spit, gannets fly over it regularly and there are reports they did breed there in the past.  As the site is open, flat and close to the sea it will suit the birds and it is possible to protect them from predators,” he says.
 
Gannets are colonial breeders, so the decoy gannets are used to persuade the birds there are already others breeding there.  The decoys have been out for two seasons and while birds have landed to check out the locals there has been no commitment to breed so far.
“Using decoys is a proven technique and while the decoys have been out for two seasons, it is still early days at Separation Point.  I believe it is worth persevering to see if we can encourage the formation of a new colony,” says Pete. A similar system is being trialled on Rotoroa Island in the Hauraki Gulf with comparable results so far.  Pete hopes one day Separation Point may look like this photograph taken at a new colony on Motuora Island.  The coloured dots distinguish the decoys from the real birds (guess which are which).
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