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SFS Centre for Rainforest Studies—13 June 2018

June 14, 2018

The School for Field Studies (SFS) is a US-based global organisation that provides students with overseas study opportunities in a variety of ecological settings. The SFS Centre for Rainforest Studies, based in Australia, features a programme of study that includes a visit to New Zealand where students can learn about New Zealand’s temperate rain forests.

Since 2014, the students’ New Zealand trip has included a visit to CUE Haven.  The group arrived just before lunch and included students Abby, Audrey, Bridget, Carmen, Chloe, Clare, Jack, Jihoo, Jordan, Maddie, Maddy, Nihall, Pasjiónette, Ryan, Sharika, Skylee, Trey, Tully and Vincent.

The group was led by Centre lecturers Justus Kithiia and Catherine Pohlman and staff members Anne, Bridget and Jade.

We started off by getting acquainted over lunch.  Mahrukh gave an overview of the CUE Haven project and Thomas described the work the students would be doing during their stay and also gave a safety briefing.

The plan for the day was to do some planting in the wetlands and also plant long lived canopy trees in an area previously planted in 2010.  Planting different types of trees in different areas gave the students a wider exposure to New Zealand plants and forest conditions.

The plants were already on site and we took the short walk to the wetlands.  Thomas explained the geography and features of the wetlands and explained some of the challenges rehabilitating the wetlands.  He also explained the different kinds of wetland plants.

The wetlands had been planted in prior years, but there are a number of invasive weeds in the wetlands that can’t be controlled by spraying.  The only way to get rid of them is to crowd them out with desirable species, so the team assisted with infill planting in the weedy areas.  The planting presented some unique challenges as they had to move deep into the wetlands to find the areas to plant and contend with uneven ground and lots of mud!

In addition to filling in bare patches in the existing planting, the team also relocated some plants that were growing too close to the boardwalk before they got too big to move.

In no time, the group managed to plant all the wetland plants.

They then collected all the pots and crates and planting bags and we moved to the next planting site.

From the second site, the group got a view of the Kaipara Harbour and the Araparera River.  Thomas explained some of the local geography and how the CUE Haven stream flows into the river and how our restoration efforts contribute to water quality improvement in the Harbour.

They then went to work, planting the very long living canopy trees – puriri, kohekohe, totara and kaihikatea, amongst the pioneer plantings.

Everyone disappeared into the bush in search of good planting spots.

When we were finished, we took a leisurely walk back to the cottage

During the walk, Thomas pointed out a number of other features of New Zealand bush and animals.  He explained our pest control programme and how possum control had saved a big puriri tree which has become a home for the protected kereru (NZ Wood pigeon). The kereru are in turn “planting” karaka seeds under the puriri tree as they are one of the few birds who are able to digest and disperse the large seeds of the karaka.  It’s a nice reminder of how everything in nature is connected.

It was a short visit but the group accomplished a lot.  We were very impressed with the enthusiastic group who were very keen to learn and help out.

Our thanks to Amanda Freeman, SFS Centre Director, for arranging the visit who is on sabbatical so could not join us today. We really enjoy having the SFS students and staff at CUE Haven and value our relationship and do so appreciate your continued support.

We want to thank Justus for handling the logistics of today’s visit.  And also many thanks to all the SFS staff for their help on site and ensuring things went smoothly.  And a big thank you to Justus for helping out with the photography.

And a very BIG THANK YOU to all the students.  It was great meeting all of you and working with you. We were very impressed by your enthusiasm, motivation and interest in CUE Haven and in NZ native flora and fauna.

You have all made a major contribution not only to the CUE Haven restoration project but also to our planet. The wetland trees you planted will help improve the water quality and the canopy trees will create a long living sustainable habitat and provide food and shelter for a variety of plant and bird life over the years. And also provide educational opportunities and enjoyment to generations of visitors.  What a fantastic legacy!!

We wish you all good luck and much success and happiness in your future endeavours.  We do hope you will keep in touch and come back to visit us at CUE Haven and enjoy the native forest reserve you have helped create.


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