Fieldwork can be as easy as reaching out of the car window to sample a tree. Or it can be a bit more challenging.
A couple of weeks ago botany curator Leon Perrie and I went to Whirinaki Te Pua-a-Tāne Conservation Park to look at tree ferns.
We’d visited the same site earlier in the year and although there were no tracks to the area we visited, it was a fairly straightforward walk.
However, on our recent visit it was difficult to believe we were in the same forest. The understory is now a near-impenetrable mess of broken branches and fallen trees.
So what had happened in between our two visits?
In August there was a large snowfall in the region that closed many roads, disrupting many people’s travel plans and isolating communities.
This snowfall also caused the damage we were seeing to the forest and it is part of the natural regeneration cycle. The gaps created by fallen branches and trees allow more light to reach the forest floor, creating opportunities for seeds to germinate and seedlings to grow into the newly available space.
There is now a huge amount of work required to clear the tramping tracks at Whirinaki. We spent some time walking on one track that had been cleared for several kilometres. The photos below are taken looking in each direction at the point where the track clearing stopped.
Lara Shepherd, Science Researcher