Saving Auckland’s last volcanic forest
The roar of the motorway is a constant reminder of what once threatened the future of Auckland’s largest remaining lava flow forest.
Roading, housing developments and pests are all enemies of the Almorah rock forest, one of the rarest ecosystems in Auckland.
Located beside the Gillies Ave on-ramp and stretching back to Almorah Rd in Epsom, the 1.4 hectare site is the largest surviving patch of volcanic material thrown up by Mt Eden more than 20,000 years ago.
Auckland Council is now entering its fourth year in a restoration project to control weeds and pests in the forest - to a cost of about $9000 to the Albert Eden Local Board.
Part of the work involved closing the Gillies Ave on-ramp for three nights in May so 40 varying sizes of tree privet could be removed.
Senior biodiversity advisor Miranda Bennett says staff have now begun to see the results of their work with new vegetation and seedlings springing to life.
‘‘We found a threatened fern in the reserve which was a great find.. It’s one of the threatened species council are wanting to manage in the region.’’
The team has also decreased the number pests who once roamed the forest, Bennett says.
‘‘We can’t say it will eradicate rodents permanently but have got rodents and possums down to low levels that won’t negatively impact vegetation.’’
Rodents aren’t the only thing that has threatened the future of Almorah rock forest.
In the early 2000s, there was backlash after a developer applied to build 12 units on a property covered by part of the forest.
In 2014, another property owner was fined $16,250 after being prosecuted by the Auckland Council for removing trees, plants and other parts of the lava flow.
Bennett says part of the next stage in restoration is developing relationships with property owners who have part of the rock forest on their properties.
She says the plan is to support the property owners with pest control and looking after the for- est.
‘‘People must be a bit perplexed about all the rocks and plants,’’ Bennett says.
‘‘We want to work with people to help to give advice and support.’’
Senior biodiversity advisor Miranda Bennett with a threatened fern staff found growing in the rock forest.