Dangerous overhanging trees pose risk to walkers
By Alan Tristram
Kāpiti Coast District Council is urging residents to stay clear of Wi Parata Reserve in Waikanae for their own safety.
The Council has closed the reserve because of a risk that overhanging plant clumps — ephiphytes or astelias — may fall onto the tracks.
Parks and Recreation Manager Alison Law says that after an astelia fell near the track recently the Council had an assessment undertaken by an external arborist whkich showed there are 17 trees in the reserve with astelias in them, including trees that overhang the track.
“This poses a risk to public safety, particularly as the clumps can be quite heavy and fall from a height,” Ms Law says.
Public safety priority
“We recognise that Wi Parata Reserve is a well-used track and a beautiful reserve in Waikanae, but the safety of our community is our main priority.
“We don’t want to take any risks and the last thing we want is for an accident to happen if it can be avoided.”
The reserve is protected under the District Plan and therefore any modifications to the vegetation requires a resource consent.
Tracks may be re-routed
“We’re currently considering our options for reducing the risk, one option we will be looking at is rerouting the tracks, and from there we will submit a resource consent application,” she says.
“It’s likely the reserve will be closed for several weeks while we go through this process.
We have put barriers up at each entrance to the reserve with signs explaining the reserve is closed, but it’s not possible to completely fence off the reserve so we are urging people to be please sensible and steer clear.”
Background info on ephiphytes:
- Epiphytes are so rich in insect and plant life they are considered ecosystems in themselves (a 30kg sample of epiphyte nest taken from a West Coast forest was found to contain 242,069 invertebrates from 446 species, and 157 plant species)
- In addition to plants and insects, epiphytes provide important habitat for geckos and a range of native birds including tui, bellbird, nz falcon and morepork
- Because of their biodiversity, and because they only occur in mature forest of which they are an integral part, epiphyte nests are of high ecological value
- Epiphytes are the last plants to colonise forest because they require mature trees as hosts and have specialised habitat requirements, therefore they cannot be restored, and take 50-100 years to occur naturally in forests
- Because epiphyte nests contain high biodiversity and little research has been done in New Zealand on their ecology, it is possible the epiphyte nests at Wi Parata Reserve contain rare, threatened, or as yet unclassified plant and invertebrate species
- Epiphyte nests in other countries have been found to play a role in maintaining the micro-climate and ecological balance of forest canopies, and in cycling water and nutrients through forest ecosystems, making it likely they play similar roles in New Zealand native forest (little research has been done so far).