The development of a concept plan for the ecological restoration of Quail Island (Otamahua) (1997)
AuthorsGenet, R. M.show all
It is deduced that a sub-humid, maritime-cool temperate, mixed broadleaf-podocarp forest probably covered most of Quail Island in pre-settlement times. It is likely that the island was deforested by early Polynesian settlers. The occurrence of forest precursors, the presence of forest remnants in environmentally analogous sites elsewhere, as well as the healthy state of natives planted in 1983 are indicative that forest recovery processes are still active and Quail Island retains a forest environment. In the development of a restoration philosophy for Quail Island, a values system is proposed that enables all species to be viewed in terms of their functional role in the contemporary ecosystem. The perceived restoration goal is to both reinitiate and speed up the native forest recovery processes on Quail Island. The main environmental restoration constraints are the presence of rabbits and mustelids. A social impact assessment scoping exercise revealed near-universal support for the concept, although the Department of Conservation is divided over support for the concept and this poses the main cultural constraint. The concerns of the principal stakeholders are mediated through the modern ecotourism paradigm within the framework of a proposed variant of the Biosphere Reserve concept. The process of restoration should be guided through a Medium Interference Management strategy that aims to mimic forest recovery processes through the development of strategically placed "forest cells". Lists of species for selection are based on those that are present in sites environmentally analogous to Quail Island. Scrubby woody cover could be attained in 10-15 years and a low forest canopy could be achieved in 20-25 years. Eight locally extinct forest bird species are suggested for translocation along with one coastal species. Four species of reptiles are also considered. A monitoring scheme is suggested to gauge success and progress.