The expected heavy fall of beech-tree seed early next year is
expected to provide the newly formed Matukituki Valley
Protection Project with its first big test.
Beech trees throughout the South are flowering heavily and
the resulting fall of seed is likely to lead to a plague of
predators that would put at risk native bird species such as
the yellow-head (mohua), blue duck (whio) and South Island
robin (kakaruai) as well as the South Island long-tailed bat
The Matukituki Valley project, a joint venture between the
Matukituki Charitable Trust and the Department of
Conservation, started in July with the aim of reducing pests
in the valley leading into the Mt Aspiring National Park,
The project covers 3000ha from the Rob Roy Valley to the head
of the West Matukituki Valley.
Funders and trustees Derek and Gillian Crombie have recruited
volunteers to help with pest control and monitoring of
Early next year they will set out seed funnels to collect the
seeds to help predict the onset and timing of the beech tree
''mast'' and the rodent and stoat plagues.
The group has already built 140 tracking tunnels and set them
out in the valley, providing baseline data on rat and mouse
The tunnels will be checked again in February to estimate the
rat population trend.
Stoats, rats, hedgehogs, cats and possums are already being
trapped as part of the project.