Da da da da da da da da . . . bat plan

ONGOING TALE: Long-tailed bats that have made an East Coast pine plantation their home are protected by Hikurangi Forest Farms’ bat plan. Department of Conservation picture

No caped crusader has come to rescue New Zealand’s only native land mammal but the pekapeka-tou-roa does have a bat plan.

To protect the pekapeka-tou-roa, otherwise known as the long-tailed bat, that has made its home in remnant East Coast native forests inland from Tolaga Bay, Hikurangi Forest Farms developed a bat management plan.

The area will be protected and a pest control programme has been intensified to protect the bat’s roost sites from predators such as stoats and rats.

“The protected area is marked on the map and our harvesting contractors have copies of the map, “ says Hikurangi Forest Farms planning and environmental manager Kim Murdie.

The long-tailed bats roost in native trees in an environment that sounds like prime real estate — in small cavities within trees that have high temperatures and humidity.

“The older the tree the better,” says Mrs Murdie.

“We have a scenic reserve bordering the plantation. The Waingaromia River runs through the reserve and the Hikurangi Forest Farms estate. Bats use the river as a flight path and to feed.

The company worked closely with Steve Sawyer of Ecoworks to help with the development of the management plan.

“He monitors the area and helps with pest management.”

Although more commonly seen than short-tailed bats as they fly at dusk along forest edges, the long-tailed bat has the highest threat ranking of “nationally critical”. They hunt by hawking — capturing and consuming airborne insects while in flight. Flies are long-tailed bats’ preferred food but they are also partial to moths, midges, mosquitoes and beetles.

New Zealand has two species of native bats, the long-tailed bat and the lesser short-tailed bat. The Maori name for both species is pekapeka.

In the 1800s the pekapeka-tou-roa were common throughout New Zealand but by 1900-1930 their numbers dwindled in many districts. The native land mammal’s population decline is attributed to a combination of logging of native lowland forests, removal of old-age trees for firewood and predation by introduced animals such as cats, possums, rats, and stoats.

No caped crusader has come to rescue New Zealand’s only native land mammal but the pekapeka-tou-roa does have a bat plan.

To protect the pekapeka-tou-roa, otherwise known as the long-tailed bat, that has made its home in remnant East Coast native forests inland from Tolaga Bay, Hikurangi Forest Farms developed a bat management plan.

The area will be protected and a pest control programme has been intensified to protect the bat’s roost sites from predators such as stoats and rats.

“The protected area is marked on the map and our harvesting contractors have copies of the map, “ says Hikurangi Forest Farms planning and environmental manager Kim Murdie.

The long-tailed bats roost in native trees in an environment that sounds like prime real estate — in small cavities within trees that have high temperatures and humidity.

“The older the tree the better,” says Mrs Murdie.

“We have a scenic reserve bordering the plantation. The Waingaromia River runs through the reserve and the Hikurangi Forest Farms estate. Bats use the river as a flight path and to feed.

The company worked closely with Steve Sawyer of Ecoworks to help with the development of the management plan.

“He monitors the area and helps with pest management.”

Although more commonly seen than short-tailed bats as they fly at dusk along forest edges, the long-tailed bat has the highest threat ranking of “nationally critical”. They hunt by hawking — capturing and consuming airborne insects while in flight. Flies are long-tailed bats’ preferred food but they are also partial to moths, midges, mosquitoes and beetles.

New Zealand has two species of native bats, the long-tailed bat and the lesser short-tailed bat. The Maori name for both species is pekapeka.

In the 1800s the pekapeka-tou-roa were common throughout New Zealand but by 1900-1930 their numbers dwindled in many districts. The native land mammal’s population decline is attributed to a combination of logging of native lowland forests, removal of old-age trees for firewood and predation by introduced animals such as cats, possums, rats, and stoats.

Looking after rare species in forestry plantation

Hikurangi Forest Farms management plan says its “resource” contains a number of protected management areas that are considered “high conservation value native forests”.

“All PMAs (Protected Management Areas) are identified in the local government district plan, riparian and indigenous forest fragments which contain New Zealand’s indigenous biodiversity (even though many of them are very small remnants from land clearance dating back to the 1890s).

“HFF (Hikurangi Forest Farms) does not harvest indigenous species on its estate and further, has an interest in enhancing and protecting the remaining indigenous areas on the estate, allowing them to restore themselves as fully as possible.”

HFF has also liaised with the Department of Conservation on how best to manage the remaining fragments of indigenous vegetation within its resource.

“DoC has identified a number of species that they are currently interested in from a rare, threatened or endangered perspective. The main species are New Zealand falcon, kiwi, weka and kaka beak.”

And now long-tailed bats.

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