Kohimarama Forest

Kohimarama Forest is a large (2.3 hectare) remnant urban forest that has never been cleared for pasture. The forest adds a significant canopy cover for the Ōrākei Local Board Area and contains many native trees taller than 10 meters. It sits on the border of Kohimarama and St Heliers, with a receiving catchment of over 250 hectares, mostly made up of residential houses, which will be intensified over the next few years. This forest historically has been undervalued and poorly maintained due to management and ownership constraints; however, it is a significant ecological area and a critical Eco-corridor, connecting wildlife, including birds, to pest-free islands of Tīkapa Moana/ Hauraki Gulf. The local community, including residents, volunteers, schools, and scientists, want to save this forest and have been working hard to raise its profile and help it reach its full potential. In addition, hundreds of community members and visitors from other regions have visited the forest over the past year. They are keen to get involved and help save this precious area, as people now understand how significant the loss would be. The forest is a biodiversity hotspot, hosting an abundance of invertebrates and is a breeding ground for pīwakawaka/ NZ fantail, kererū/ NZ pigeon and many other native/ endemic bird species. It is home to adult and juvenile copper skinks (Oligosoma aeneum) classified as ‘At risk – declining’. More than 34 species of lichen have been recorded, including many ‘At risk – naturally uncommon’ species. The forest hosts ancient kohekohe trees older than 200 years and has provided a significant seed source for the wider Tāmaki Ecological district. The permanent stream that flows through the forest is a very rare intact headwater that diadromous fish species can swim up to from the ocean to complete their life cycle. The Eastern Bays Songbird Project Manu Tī Oriori team and volunteers have been instrumental in clearing weeds and pest animals. All the hard work and dedication are paying off with abundant bird life, regenerating native trees, and a clear flowing stream full of native fish species. Over 1000 m2 of the pest plant kahili ginger has been removed, allowing native plants to seed throughout the forest naturally. Also, pest plant vines such as elaeagnus and jasmine that were strangling and causing canopy collapse have now been removed in vast quantities throughout the forest. Over 2000 native plants have been planted over the last few years as the weeds have been removed, and another 2000 will be planted this winter/ planting season. These plants have primarily filtered and stabilised the banks of the permanent un-piped stream that runs through the valley, reducing sediment flowing down to Kohimarama Beach and into Tīkapa Moana/ Hauraki Gulf. To ensure that the restoration work is carried out following appropriate practice, Wildlands Consultants Ltd was contracted to write a restoration plan so that the community has guidance. The Eastern Bays Songbird Project will endeavour to carry out this plan and maintain the forest to ensure it does not return to its former state. Several schools, supported by the Ministry of Education, have reached out to this group and are keen to use the forest as an outdoor classroom and will be involved in planting, pest control and water monitoring regularly. Kohimarama Forest has already hosted several events and educational workshops. We know that when local government can partner with the community, areas like this can flourish for generations, and we now need to take bold steps to ensure Kohimarama Forest is protected and valued.