The Ark in the Park (AIP) is an eco-restoration project in the Cascades Kauri Park, northern Waitakere Ranges, Auckland.
There are no physical barriers between AIP and the surrounding forest, but the continuous operation of predator control within its boundaries creates a "mainland island "of sanctuary compared to the risk- laden forest around. The predator control is allowing the existing flora and fauna to recover: trees and plants, invertebrates, native frogs, and birds. As well as this natural recovery, a programme of species restoration has started. Already there have been successful reintroductions of whitehead, North Island robin, and kokako.
Predator control began in 2002 and currently there are approximately 2450 predator controlled hectares where introduced mammalian predators are kept to very low levels. This is achieved by means of a grid of bait stations, in which a toxic bait is placed to control rats, mice, and possums. In addition, cordons of traps kill mustelids (stoats, weasels, ferrets). The bait stations are placed 50 metres apart, on straight lines 100 metres apart. The bait is renewed three times a season, starting late winter (to ensure low numbers of predators before the start of the bird breeding season), and finishes mid-summer (before the peak of wasp numbers makes things unpleasant for our volunteers).
Four times a year monitor tunnels are checked to measure rat and mice levels, which are compared with the levels from tunnels placed outside AIP.
Mustelid traps are checked and re-baited once a week in summer, and every one to two weeks in winter.
Weed control is also carried out by volunteers, both by physical removal and by use of herbicides.
The Ark in the Park Buffer Zone is another 800 hectares of forest private land in the Waitakere Valley (to the north), where private land owners control pests. Forest and Bird and the Auckland Regional Council assist landowners with traps, bait, and technical assistance. This has allowed hihi and whiteheads to roam across a larger forest area.
Funding to carry out the Buffer Zone has been provided by the Dept of Conservation Condition and Advice Fund and the Portage Licensing Trust.
Click here to see a map showing the Buffer Zone