Find out how kiwi can thrive in managed plantation forests.
If you were to imagine a kiwi roaming around in its natural habitat, most people would think of lush native bush complete with ferns, native birdsong, and ancient giants of the forest towering above them.
But kiwi can live – and thrive – in exotic plantation forests if a few simple precautions are taken. These precautions do not need to disrupt how the forest is managed, or its profitability.
Help for forest owners
Here are some guidelines for preparing, maintaining, and harvesting a kiwi-friendly forest:
- Leave pockets of native vegetation and maintain native bush along stream sides and wetlands.
- Avoid using fire to clear land.
- If possible, avoid roller crushing and bulldozing to clear land.
- Plant the forest in small compartments that vary in age so birds have a chance to find a new home when mature trees are harvested.
- Avoid harvesting from June to October, the main kiwi nesting time.
- Control predators.
- Only give access to reliable hunters who have trained their dogs to avoid kiwi.
- The Department of Conservation Te Papa Atawhai can provide advice for major forestry developments.
Where threatened species are known to occur within plantation forests and their presence is considered significant by the Department of Conservation, plantation managers shall consult with the Department of Conservation on management practices with the objective of conserving the population. Contact DOC for more information.
How to help kiwi in a drought
New Zealand is increasingly enduring longer, drier summers, and even during winter rainfall can be very unpredictable. As a result, the ground becomes hard which makes it very difficult for kiwi to probe for food. Because the bills of kiwi chicks are softer than adults’, dry conditions are particularly hard on the young.
Kiwi get a lot of their moisture from their food. When they can’t find food as easily, they’re forced to forage longer and further than usual. This means they have to emerge from their forest habitat in daylight, which increases the risk of being run over by cars or encountering dogs. There’s also a risk of overheating and becoming dehydrated during the day, and some kiwi have drowned in cattle troughs and ponds because they’ve fallen in while looking for water and haven’t been able to get out.
Kiwi usually lay two clutches of eggs every year but during drought conditions they’re less likely to lay their second clutch. This impacts everyone’s efforts to boost the birds’ numbers too.
So how can forest owners help support kiwi populations that live on their land during drought conditions? Here are some tips:
- Put water out for kiwi. Don’t put out food like worms, grubs, or cat food because it will go off in the heat and attract predators.
- If you have low-sided bodies of water (like fishponds, cattle troughs, or swimming pools), put rocks and planks in them to help kiwi climb out should they fall in.
- Always keep your dog under control, day and night.
- Report kiwi that seem to be in trouble to your local DOC Area Office so they can assess and take them into care if required.
- Drought conditions and their impact on kiwi populations reiterates the importance of having a healthy forest, and in particular protecting and enhancing the undergrowth to stop the ground drying out so quickly. Long-term, planting vegetative corridors or removing barriers to allow kiwi to move to wetter areas will be important.
Dogs and kiwi don’t mix. Whether you want to take Murphy, Charlie or Spot on a hike or on holiday, find out how to make sure your dog never meets a kiwi in the wild.
Pig, deer, or duck … It doesn’t matter what you like to hunt, you could run into a kiwi in the wild. Find out more about your responsibilities when it comes to kiwi conservation before you head out on your next hunting trip.
Farmers and landowners
A significant proportion of kiwi live on private land. If you’re a farmer or own land, find out how you can keep kiwi living on your property safe.