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Published: 2001-08-07 00:00:00

Environment Waikato has developed a series of factsheets on the small forest fragments left around the Waikato Region.

Forest fragments are the scattered remains of once extensive native forests, or small patches that have re-grown on retired land. Many Waikato properties have native forest fragments, often in gullies or on steep slopes where they help protect soil and water quality.

Environment Waikato terrestrial ecologist Karen Denyer says small, isolated pockets of bush are vulnerable to pests, and may be too small to support some native plants or animals.

“But we need to manage and protect them because in some areas they’re all that’s left.”

She says bush fragments are important because they help prevent soil erosion and maintain water quality, native birds can use them as ‘stepping stones’ to move around between larger forest areas, and even small fragments may contain threatened species, such as king fern.
Fragments also act as windbreaks to shelter stock in nearby paddocks, support native insects that may help pollinate nearby crops or control some pests, and also provide educational and cultural resources, such as plant material for traditional Maori medicines.

They could also be sources of plants for restoration.

Birds or wind carry native seeds from forest fragments to replenish other natural areas, and people restoring natural areas can use them to collect locally-sourced seed, she says.

Environment Waikato’s factsheets cover the special problems forest fragments face and provide tips on how to prolong their life and encourage native wildlife. They are being launched this week to celebrate Conservation Week.

The free set is available from Environment Waikato's Freephone 0800 800 401.