Life in forest fragments
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The Waikato region’s large and diverse landscape was once mostly covered in native forest. Today, most of our native forest patches are small, scattered fragments. Fragments provide important refuges, food sources, ‘stepping stones’ between larger vegetated areas and seasonal habitats for many native species. However, a fragment’s size can limit the numbers and types of plants and animals within them.
The most common forest types in Waikato forest fragments are tawa (56 percent), mixed broadleaved forest (25 percent) and kahikatea and totara (10 percent). The remaining nine percent includes kanuka or manuka, kauri, and beech forest.
Because of their small size and isolation, forest fragments are not able to sustain the diversity of plants and animals found in large areas of native forest. Some bird species can’t live permanently in fragments because of insufficient year-round food supplies.
Native birds, reptiles, a variety of bugs and insects, and even our native bats may be found in forest fragments. Half of our region’s fragments have streams running through them that may contain native fish.
- Retaining or creating tree and shrub-clad stream and river margins to link separate fragments and improve wildlife passage.
- Planting long-rotation woodlots between fragments and harvesting outside the breeding seasons.
- Increasing the size of your fragment by planting around it, or between fragments.
- Planting in the understorey if natural regeneration is not occurring.
- Planting ‘winter food’ plants like miro, karamu, kohuhu, korokio, lemonwood, fivefinger, putaputaweta and, in warmer areas, kohekohe and puriri.
- Retaining dead standing trees and fallen logs within the fragment as home to fungi, insects and other invertebrates which provide food for other animals. Dead standing trees can also act as perching sites for birds and nest holes for bats and some birds.
- Planting stands of nectar rich, winter flowering species, such as tree lucerne or Grevillea in nearby gardens so birds stay around for longer.
Encouraging birds to your fragment will increase plant diversity too, thanks to the seeds carried in by them.
Find out more about the types of vegetation in native forest fragments.