Restoring the biodiversity of Maitai and Roding Water Reserves

Nelson Nature’s aim to restore the natural biodiversity of the Maitai and Roding water reserves gets another boost soon with the annual animal pest operation being undertaken from 8-23 September 2019.

It is fitting that the programme is underway during Conservation Week, as reducing the pest populations of goats and deer helps to restore forest health in the largest intact forest ecosystem in the Nelson region.

Council allows recreational hunters in these areas at other times, and while they assist with controlling the pest animal populations, more systematic control is needed to achieve a significant reduction. A browsing animal can quickly have a considerable impact on regenerating growth.

The areas covered by the programme need special protection as they are home to threatened plants associated with the limestone geology in the area, and to other plants found only in the Dun Mountain Mineral Belt ecosystem.

Browsing in the undergrowth by deer and goats kills off important plant species, making the forest less diverse and therefore changing the habitat for wildlife. For example, our local species of giant land snails rely upon the moist environment created by a lush understorey and are regarded by wild pigs as a tasty snack.

The control operation aims to reduce numbers to low levels over a long time-frame so the forest has a chance to recover. More than 4,200 ha of the reserve will be covered.

The initial programme in 2018 recorded approximately 180 deer and goats being removed during a similar period.  

Maitai Roding Closed Sep2019 Topo50 26Aug2019

Track Closures

Tracks in the Maitai and Roding catchments will be closed between 8-23 September (inclusive) to allow contractors to carry out the pest animal hunting operations.

Please note the warning signs at the entrances to affected trails. Council apologises for any inconvenience and urges everyone to obey all signage and respect the closures for their own safety.

Animal control operations FAQs

Why is the Council involved in this operation?

Nelson City Council manages the Maitai and Roding Catchments as conservation reserves. The objectives of this management are to maintain the quality of Nelson's water supply, to conserve the extensive and nationally significant ecosystems in the reserves, and to provide access for recreation if that is compatible with the other objectives.

What damage are these animals doing?

Currently, much of the forest in these reserves is in a poor state due to browsing ungulates (goats, deer) slowing forest regeneration over many decades. The main issue is not that animal numbers are abnormally high, it’s that the amount the animals are eating means the forest is stuck in a degraded state and being held back from regeneration.

Why do you need to get contractors in - wouldn't recreational hunters do this for free?

For many years, numbers of goat and deer in the catchments have been (and continue to be) controlled by the reserve caretakers and permitted recreational hunters to ensure their droppings don’t begin to have an impact on water quality.

In recent years, greater emphasis has been put on doing more to protect our high-value natural environments, looking after the forest itself. To achieve that we are using a combination of recreational hunting throughout the year and an annual control operation using professional hunters.

A professional control operation ensures that the whole area is covered systematically, efficiently and safely. The two approaches complement each other.

What happens to the meat? Can the meat from the animals be recovered?

Unfortunately, carcass recovery is impractical and inefficient for a variety of operational reasons. The areas being hunted are in remote and rugged terrain. Carcasses will be left to decompose naturally in the forest, away from tracks and waterways.

I'm a recreational hunter, can I hunt in these reserves?

Recreational hunting in the reserves is controlled via a permit system. Contact Council’s Customer Service team on 546 0200 for information on how to apply.