Mohunga Peninsular Restoration Group by Jo O'Reilly


Background

Mohunga landscape, steep, rugged and isolated - photo by Jo O'Reilly, EnvirokiwiMohunga Peninsular makes up the northern side of Port Abercrombie. It is over 600 ha of rugged predominantly bush and scrub covered land. All homes on the peninsular are located along the waterfront and access is only by boat. Beyond the houses the land rises steeply to a main ridgeline.

For many years various Mohunga Residents have been carrying out predator control around their houses. Native planting and weed control has also been undertaken. During 2003 some of these people began to discuss possibilities for extending their initiatives over a wider area and in 2004 the Department of Conservation Biodiversity Advice funds enabled the contracting of an expert to study and report on the biodiversity of the peninsular. It was recognized the peninsular has a variety of different, important habitats and species including native reptiles, fish, birds and invertebrates. In 2005 The Mohunga Peninsula Restoration Group Incorporated was registered and consists of residents and landowners from the peninsular. They are working towards the following objectives:

• To preserve the native flora and fauna on Mohunga Peninsular.
• To enhance the various habitats to enable the existing indigenous populations to increase and
to allow introduction of species that have been decimated or eliminated.
• To encourage similar projects on other areas of Aotea.

The Mohunga Peninsular Restoration Project brings together a diverse range of people to work towards a common goal and fosters a community spirit. It offers an opportunity to become actively involved in conservation and provides employment opportunities for local people.

The location of Mohunga Peninsular means that work done on it to protect biodiversity has significant direct wider implications. It is the nearest land to Hauturu (Little Barrier Island), the publicly owned (DOC administered) Nature Reserve. Species such as bell bird arrive from Hauturu to Mohunga but to date no breeding has been recorded on Great Barrier Island. It lies adjacent to Kaikoura Island which is currently being managed by a trust with a vision to eradicate all introduced mammals from it. It is also close to Glenfern Sanctuary, another private restoration project with a vision to eradicate mammalian pests. Between Glenfern Sanctuary and Mohunga Peninsular lies the Great Barrier Outdoor Pursuits Centre whose students have the opportunity to get involved in these projects. Each of these projects is significant in itself but if all these restoration projects proceed, it will provide a significant and diverse area for protection of a wide range of rare, declining and or threatened New Zealand flora and fauna.

The group has contracted Envirokiwi Ltd, a local (Okiwi) contracting and consulting company to manage the progression of the project.

Biz Bell of Wildlife International is currently undertaking species monitoring including birds, bats, frogs and lizards. Biz’s work focuses in particular on sea bird monitoring and protection, and Grey faced petrel chick - photo by Jo O'Reilly - Envirokiwieradication of mammalian pests from islands. Members of the Group are hosting Biz and volunteering with field work and boat transport around the peninsular. So far Biz has found Black petrel, Cooks petrel and grey faced petrel nesting on the peninsular— great news! Biz has also provided the group with information and insights on some of the options for managing mammalian pests.

Plans for the coming months include reopening a ridgeline track along the length of the Peninsular from Orama out to Nagle Cove and a buffer/access route at the base of the peninsular to the coasts. A 4X4 vehicle will be purchased to allow easier access and transport of management tools.

Predator Control
As well as the rodent bait stations that individuals are maintaining around their properties, the group service bait stations around the Port Abercrombie shoreline area. These are currently being serviced once a month. Tracking tunnel lines to monitor rat activity are located over the peninsular.

Cat traps have been established along the top ridge track of the peninsular and are operated predominantly over the winter months because of a potential risk to black petrels that may be in the area over that time.

To maintain pests at low enough numbers to help species recovery and reintroduce species once living here it is recognized that a predator proof fence is the most efficient long term option. A proposed fenceline has been identified with both ends at defendable sites on the coastline. Approximately 2km of fenceline could protect approximately 600ha of land. However other options can also be effective at achieving the objectives of the Group and these are also being considered.