Edward Baigent Reserve, Wakefield
Edward Baigent Reserve occupies an area of river floodplain alongside Eighty Eight Valley Stream just above its confluence with the Wai-iti River. It is adjacent to State Highway 6 just southwest of Wakefield.
The reserve is a popular camping and picnic area, providing recreational opportunities that complement those provided by other reserves in the Wakefield area. The reserve is visible from State Highway 6 and provides part of a scenic introduction to Wakefield for north-bound travellers.
A section of the reserve is maintained as mown grass with several large totara, kahikatea, and beech trees. Willow trees are present along the Eighty Eight Valley Stream boundary. This part of the reserve provides an attractive picnic and camping area, with a well-formed road from State Highway 6. Facilities include picnic tables and platforms, concrete fireplaces, metal barbecue stands, rubbish containers, and a toilet. Camping is permitted in the reserve but restricted to a two-night maximum stay.
The reserve supports a small stand of floodplain forest dominated by large totara, kahikatea, and matai trees. Other important trees present are large silver beech trees and a large pokaka tree. The understorey of the forest remnant is dominated by mahoe, Coprosma rotundifolia, and a range of small-leaved native species.
A report on the ecology of the reserve completed for the Council by Geoff Walls in 1998 identified several noteworthy species in the reserve, including the tall podocarp and beech trees listed above, the threatened shrub Teucridium parvifolium, native mistletoe (Ileostylis micranthus), and the shrub Melicytus “brockei”. The forest remnant is also listed in the inventory of tall forest stands collated by Park and Walls in 1978 , though has a relatively low rank due to its small size.
The forest remnant occupies approximately two-thirds of the area of the reserve.
Edward Baigent Reserve supports a small but important remnant of lowland alluvial forest. It is part of a group of small scattered native forest remnants in the Wakefield area that collectively provide important habitat for native birds such as kereru.
A management committee, the Wakefield Bush Restoration Incorporated Society (established in March 2000), is working with the Council to assist with management of the reserve and to raise community awareness of its natural values. A notice board in Faulkner Bush Reserve provides details of current projects and contacts for the Society.