Tasman has the largest and most diverse range of limestone and marble landscapes in the country and these support their own faunal populations. As a result of the wide range of habitats, Tasman is rich in animal life and has many species found nowhere else in New Zealand.
The arrival of humans and predators led to the loss of habitat and extinction of many species. Tuatara, native frogs and several species of seabird were gone before the 1800s. Takahe, orange-fronted parakeet and saddleback were gone by 1975, as had the short-tailed bat. Red-crowned parakeet, yellowhead, kakapo, kokako, little-spotted kiwi, and the Australasian crested grebe have apparently died out in the last 30 years. Other species such as kaka, kea, rock wren, blue duck and great-spotted kiwi are in decline except where there are predator control operations.
More than half the land is now in public ownership and protected for conservation purposes. Much of this land is steep mountainous terrain where the climate is cooler, damper and cloudier. Here the ecosystems are relatively extensive and ecologically intact.
The land that is in private ownership is in the valleys and on the coastal plains, foothills and lower slopes, mostly under 600m. It is warmer, drier and more fertile. Much of this has been cleared to provide for primary industries. The remaining indigenous ecosystems are often small remnants, scattered through areas dominated by agriculture, horticulture and plantation forests. Some of these bush remnants have been included in council reserves. Areas like Faulkner’s Bush in the Wakefield Domain provide a good opportunity to feel what those early forests were like.
There are several restoration programmes around the district involving Tasman District Council and landowners.
The Council is working with landowners who have natural areas with high biodiversity values. The Native Habitats Tasman (NHT) programme promotes better understanding of indigenous biodiversity within the district. Landowners are contacted to seek permission to visit their sites and invited to meet with the ecologist. All landowners receive a comprehensive ecological report and are invited to comment on its contents.
Information on the programme can be found in the Native Habitats Tasman brochure.
Questions and answers about the NHT programme can be found on the FAQ sheets below.
Reports on ecological districts around the region are available
There are many committed individuals in Tasman District who are actively involved in restoration programmes, either on their own property or private or Crown land. These programmes include:
There are also organisations such as Forest and Bird whose members undertake a wider range of restoration work, either through their own projects or through the organisations listed above. More and more farmers are becoming more aware of the importance of the ecological benefits of wetlands and riparian plantings and are fencing off areas to establish and protect them.