John Elliott: How does the Western Springs Forest look now?

In late September, I went for a walk through the forest. I entered via the rebuilt track from West View Road.

This track has been significantly improved since the pine removal. As I’d previously noted and commented on, there is a lot of the native under storey still present, some of it 20 or 25 feet tall.

The road in, built to remove the pines, has been planted with small natives, but it is still covered by metres and metres of pine chip and mulch.

The newly planted natives, have mostly survived the planting, but a few look pretty sick. Many of the ti, or cabbage trees, are yellowed and fragile looking. I’m not sure there are enough future canopy trees planted-Totara, Rimu, Karaka, Puriri. I saw no Kowhai either—lovely natives for the edge of a forest to attract the honey eaters like tui and bellbird.

There are wet patches along the road, where water courses normally run down the hill. I’m advised that these water courses have not been restored as required under the resource consent. Those mountains of chip and mulch should have been removed too.

I remain concerned at the range of natives being used in the restoration. Also, no planting has yet been undertaken amongst existing under storey growth.

I was unable to pin point where the loop track proposed is to be created. I think the forest is big enough to warrant a loop track, as an alternative for visitors, who currently have only the up and down track from West View Road to use.

It will be a long while before we hear the dawn chorus in the forest, but it can be done with assiduous weeding (without glyphosate), and careful overall management. A voluntary local group to help the professionals would be a good idea, both in an ongoing way, and for special weeding days.

The huge gash caused by an excessively wide road has done permanent damage to the whole forest, but renovation and renewal can now take place. It will, however, require continuous careful maintenance. (JOHN ELLIOTT)

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Published 1 October 2021