Nelson Nature fortnightly nature fix.
Welcome to the Nelson Nature fortnightly nature fix - a regular snippet about Nelson's natural environment, and what we can do to look after it. If you know anyone who you think might enjoy getting a regular nature fix, please pass this on and encourage them to sign up.
The land we now call New Zealand was once covered in forest which provided a rich habitat for birds. The only mammals that lived here were bats and seals, as once these two islands had separated from the ancient supercontinent of Gondwana, they were the only mammals able to reach it.
750 years since humans first arrived here, just a fraction of New Zealand's original lowland forest is still standing and half of its indigenous vertebrate fauna species have disappeared.
We know that at least 51 bird species are extinct, as well as three species each of frogs and lizards, at least one freshwater fish species, four plant species and unknown numbers of invertebrates. These are the ones we know about - gone forever. There may be many more.
The survival of our forest and our native birds are forever linked. Kererū are the only birds capable of eating and spreading the seeds of our ancient podocarp trees – trees found only in New Zealand like Matai and Miro. Without kererū these trees would not reproduce; without the trees, kererū would be threatened.
So what can you do to help? Two things we can all do this coming month to help these beautiful birds are:
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- Take part in the Great Kererū Count of 2016, so that citizen science data can contribute to a greater understanding of where kererū are thriving, and where they are no longer found.
- Plant a kererū friendly tree such as kowhai, flax, cabbage tree, or wineberry either in your garden, or a local reserve, to provide future food for our gardeners of the skies.
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