SUPPLEMENTARY EVIDENCE OF SHONA CLAIRE MYERS ON BEHALF OF THE KAPITI COAST DISTRICT COUNCIL. Terrestrial ecology. DATE: 3 February 2012

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1 BEFORE A BOARD OF INQUIRY TRANSMISSION GULLY PROPOSAL UNDER the Resource Management Act 1991 IN THE MATTER OF applications for resource consents and notices of requirement in relation to the Transmission Gully Proposal BY New Zealand Transport Agency, Porirua City Council and Transpower New Zealand Limited SUPPLEMENTARY EVIDENCE OF SHONA CLAIRE MYERS ON BEHALF OF THE KAPITI COAST DISTRICT COUNCIL Terrestrial ecology DATE: 3 February 2012 Barristers & Solicitors D J S Laing / M G Conway Telephone: Facsimile: DX SX11174 PO Box 2402 Wellington

2 1. INTRODUCTION 1.1 My full name is Shona Claire Myers. My qualifications, experience and basis for my evidence are as set out in my primary statement of evidence dated 21 December This supplementary evidence has been prepared in accordance with paragraph 6 of the directions of the Board dated 18 January FIELD OBSERVATIONS 2.1 I attended a site visit for the Transmission Gully route organised by New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) on 19 January During this site visit I viewed the Te Puka Catchment and the Wainui Saddle, including remnants of kohekohe forest on hillslopes, riparian forest, wetlands, boulderfield habitats, the Te Puka stream and tributaries, and the Akatarawa Forest. 2.2 The site visit confirmed the statements provided in my evidence of 21 December 2011 in relation to the ecological values and significance of habitats within the Kapiti Coast District section of the designation. Field observations have confirmed, in particular, my view of the considerable ecological significance of the remnants of kohekohe forest on the western side of the Te Puka Catchment. I also observed that they are reasonably extensive and are not simply isolated remnants. The remnants and connections between them are collectively significant and worthy of protection and enhancement. I also note that it was agreed at the expert terrestrial ecological conferencing of 8 and 16 December 2011 that Te Puka catchment is an ecological hotspot due to the concentration of terrestrial values, including kohekohe forest. 2.3 The majority of these remnants will be markedly affected or destroyed by construction of the road in the middle to upper reaches of the catchment. I observed during the field visit that, in the lower reaches of the catchment, the proposed route, as marked on-site, is also close to Sites K139, K223, and K224, and may affect the edges of these remnants (with resultant potential for edge effects). 2.4 The areas of kohekohe forest in the Te Puka catchment comprise pure stands in many places and are likely to be remnants of the original forest type. The remnants have been adversely affected by grazing (see Plate 1), but Page 2

3 understory vegetation would regenerate, and overall stand condition would recover easily and relatively rapidly, if fenced. Fenced areas within the Akatarawa Forest on the eastern side of the catchment show good regeneration of understorey species, illustrating the benefits that can be achieved through protection (Plate 2). 2.5 Many of the kohekohe remnants are surrounded by and buffered by indigenous shrubland (Plate 3), and, collectively, these complexes of forest and shrubland comprise significant areas of habitat. There are also scattered kohekohe trees and small fragmented remnants of kohekohe forest within the areas of shrubland. On the lower slopes, the kohekohe remnants, in places, are contiguous with and form riparian forest beside the Te Puka Stream. In places, this riparian forest comprises connections between the Akatarawa Forest, on the eastern side of the catchment, and the kohekohe forest on the western side (Plate 4). The riparian forest and linkages will be destroyed by construction of the road. 3. ADEQUACY OF INFORMATION PROVIDED AND MITIGATION PROPOSED 3.1 My observation is that the kohekohe forest is more extensive and ecologically significant than has been mapped in Figure 11.9a of the AEE (Technical Report 11), particularly in the upper catchment. In particular, the total area of kohekohe forest, including riparian forest and scattered trees, is larger than the area of the individual remnants mapped as being ecologically significant in Figure 11.9a. Many of the remnants are surrounded by significant areas of indigenous shrubland, and are not isolated and totally fragmented, but comprise a semi-continuous area of indigenous habitat extending along parts of the western slopes of the catchment. Collectively all of the remnants of kohekohe forest, and riparian forest provide significant habitat and the interconnecting indigenous shrublands provide important buffering and linkages. These forests are providing habitat for indigenous bird species including tui, bellbird and kereru. As agreed at terrestrial ecology witness conferencing on 16 December 2011, the forest and boulder fields on the western slopes provide habitat for lizards, invertebrates and other indigenous flora and fauna. 3.2 Eleven hectares of kohekohe forest have been mapped in the AEE (Technical Report 11; Table 11-13) as being present within the designation in Te Puka Page 3

4 Catchment. In addition, there is a total of six hectares of indigenous riparian forest, and secondary kanuka and broadleaved forest that links with and buffers the kohekohe forest (Technical Report 11; Table 11-13). The total area of indigenous forest mapped within the designation is therefore at least 17 hectares. A further eight hectares of indigenous tauhinu shrubland (Technical Report 11; Table 11-13) provides important buffering to the kohekohe forest. In my opinion, the loss of all of these areas of indigenous forest and shrubland needs to be addressed in terms of mitigation for the adverse ecological effects on Te Puka Catchment. 3.3 It is currently proposed that mitigation in the Te Puka Catchment will include protection of remaining forest remnants, which lie outside of the road footprint. Mitigation will also include revegetation planting and enrichment planting on the upper slopes of the Te Puka Catchment (Technical Report 11; Appendix 11.J). In Table of the AEE 426 hectares of mitigation, including 155 hectares of retirement and protection, is proposed for vegetation loss across the whole route. Planting will not replace the mature indigenous forest which will be lost. It will also not replace forest that will be lost from the lower slopes, or the riparian forest beside the Te Puka Stream and its tributaries. Having now viewed this vegetation, I strongly suggest that more mitigation should be provided, to more adequately address the losses proposed, and to replace and restore kohekohe forest in particular. I recommend that the protection and restoration of at least hectares of kohekohe forest should be required to offset the loss of forest in Te Puka Catchment. 3.4 Options for increasing the level of mitigation to be provided could include the protection and enhancement of separate remnants of kohekohe forest on land outside of the Te Puka Catchment. Significant levels of animal pest control could also be undertaken in Akatarawa Forest. Permanent protection of remaining areas of kohekohe forest, and interconnecting forest, shrublands, and replanted areas in the catchment, should include legal covenants, fencing, and ongoing animal pest and weed control. This is critical to ensure healthy ongoing natural regeneration, and for the long-term viability of the vegetation and habitats. The kohekohe forest remnants which remain need to be fenced (Plate 1), and for ongoing animal pest control to be undertaken. Animal pest control is a standard requirement of many legal covenants and is not an onerous cost. Page 4

5 4. CONCLUSION 4.1 I conclude that the destruction of these remnants of kohekohe forest will have very significant adverse ecological effects. I recommend that a condition is included which specifically seeks to minimise the loss of kohekohe remnants and associated habitats in Te Puka Catchment, and that the level of mitigation to be provided is increased. Mitigation should include permanent protection of existing kohekohe forest remnants, significant revegetation and restoration of kohekohe forest, and fencing and ongoing pest and weed control. Shona Myers 3 February 2012 Page 5

6 Plate 1: Unfenced kohekohe forest on western side of Te Puka Catchment Plate 2: Fenced kohekohe forest on eastern side of Te Puka Catchment (Akatarawa Forest), showing dense understorey regeneration. Page 6

7 Plate 3: View down Te Puka Catchment, with kohekohe forest and areas of shrubland on left (west), and Akatarawa Forest on right (east). Plate 4: Riparian kohekohe forest on right (west) linking with Akatarawa Forest on left (east). Page 7

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