Mainland Island Restoration Operation (MIRO) is a group of volunteers who work in partnership with Greater Wellington Regional Council (GWRC) to restore the forest and lakes ecosystem of the East Harbour Regional Park (EHRP). Central to this is the elimination of animal pests – possums, rats and stoats – within a Mainland Island of 300 hectare within the Northern Forest. Control of these predators will allow vulnerable flora and fauna to flourish again and allow the reintroduction of species lost to the Park.
MIRO, in partnership with GWRC, carries out regular predator control to allow the restoration of the forest flora and fauna, and MIRO is beginning to see tangible rewards from this programme.
With the successful control of pests, MIRO has translocated 108 North Island Robin to the Mainland Island of the Northern Forest Block. The robins were sourced from the Wanganui Conservancy (2008) and Kapiti Island (2011 and 2012). The ongoing monitoring and banding of the Robins is now part of MIRO’s responsibility.
EHRP is a haven for birdlife in the Wellington Region with over 50 species found there. These include regionally rare species such as tomtit, rifleman, whitehead, kakariki, falcon, banded dotterel and grey duck. MIRO conducts 5 minute bird counts throughout the year so numbers of birds can be tracked over time to see if any trends are happening. The Park is also home to a wide range of other native fauna of regional importance such as the green gecko, copper skink, giant kokupu, the land snail wainuia urnula and peripatus.
A Landcare Report in 1995 showed the extent of damage being caused by possums on vegetation in East Harbour Regional Park. Foliar browse was found to be particularly heavy on a range of broadleaf trees and especially on the northern rata. MIRO volunteers started trapping possums around Hawtrey in the rata forest, while Hutt City Council provided householders adjacent to the bush with Timms traps to catch possums on the urban fringes. This became known as the Possum Busters campaign. It continued for a number of years but gradually wound down. MIRO however continued to trap within the Park, moving traps as areas were cleared.
In 2004 when Greater Wellington Regional Council GWRC took over as Park managers, they proposed the set-up of a park-wide network of possum traps and agreed to fund it if MIRO would provide volunteers to service the traps. The network, which now extends right across the 2000ha of the northern forest block, comprises over 60km of trap-lines and currently there are 477 possum kill traps and rat bait stations. Stoat traps have also been added and the network continues to be added to as required. MIRO also assists GWRC with quarterly pest monitoring (rodent and mustelid) where numbers of pests in the park can be estimated and targeted.
A Nursery to assist restoration of the Parangarahu Lakes Area was set up in 2005 by MIRO with the greatful assitance of GNS on who’s land the nursery resides. The lakes block (now known as the Parangarahu Lakes Area) was added to the Park after the cessation of a grazing lease to a local farmer in 2004. The area was to be allowed to regenerate naturally but to speed up the process MIRO proposed the establishment of the nursery to grow eco-sourced trees to attract birds and facilitate the spread of native seed into areas of gorse.
GWRC commissioned a plan to guide the restoration. This plan identified the tree species required and also identified suitable plots for selective planting in the area. The first 800 trees from there were planted in the winter of 2007 in a specially fenced plot near Lake Kohangapiripiri to protect the small trees from hares. MIRO and GWRC have now planted over 7,000 trees from the nursery in 6 plots around the lakes. MIRO will be working with GWRC and the Port Nicholson Block Settlement Trust (PNBST) on best practice management of the Lakes Area in the future.
You can contact MIRO through: firstname.lastname@example.org
Or by Mail: PO Box 41-038
Lower Hutt 5047