Park Status: Open

Why this Forest is important

Awahuri Forest Kitchener Park is a remnant of an ecosystem type referred to as WF8: kahikatea, pukatea forest under the Singers & Rogers classification system for New Zealand ecosystems.

https://www.doc.govt.nz/documents/science-and-technical/sfc325entire.pdf

In the Manawatū-Whanganui Region historically kahikatea, pukatea forest would have occupied most of the low-lying floodplains of the major rivers from the Whanganui to the Manawatū, and seasonally flooded dune plains in the Foxton Ecological District. This ecosystem is essentially swamp forest or seasonally waterlogged floodplain forest.  It occurs on poor and imperfectly draining organic, gley and recent fluvial soils with (seasonally) high water tables.

This forest type has been greatly reduced in extent with land development for agriculture and most examples are now highly fragmented or small.  Many examples have additionally suffered from lowered water tables as a result of land drainage, allowing invasion or replacement by species more suited to drier habitats.  Only 1% of the former kahikatea, pukatea forest cover remains in the Manawatū-Whanganui Region.

The low-lying, wettest areas of Awahuri Forest Kitchener Park are dominated by kahikatea trees with many of these towering above the canopy.  Fragments that have been subjected to historic livestock grazing – as is the case here – typically have few surviving pukatea as their root systems are particularly sensitive to trampling damage. Only a handful of mature pukatea remain and this species is an important part of the restoration planting already underway.  Tawa, tītoki, tōtara, mataī, pōkākā, māhoe, kōwhai, ribbonwood and narrow-leaved lacebark occur on areas of drier, slightly raised ground with imperfectly drained soils.

Kahikatea have bird dispersed fruits and these forests would have been seasonally significant resources for many species (e.g. tūī & kereru). Mature kahikatea fruit heavily every two to three years, producing up to an estimated 800 kg of fruit per tree.

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Free entry, open 7 days a week.

 

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