Posted By QEII National Trust | November 8, 2022

31-hectares of native forest in Hawke’s Bay, protected by a QEII covenant since 2001, has been given a helping hand to get on top of deer as part of a $2 million funding partnership between QEII National Trust, Hawkes Bay Regional Council, Department of Conservation and local landowners. 

The QEII-covenanted forest, near Te Pohue on SH5, had its fencing upgraded to better exclude deer and goats, which had been causing extensive damage despite the best efforts of the landowners to get on top of the problem.  

The canopy is in good condition, with impressive emergent trees of black maire and podocarps, however as deer became more prolific in the area, they began pushing through the existing fencing and entering the covenant. The understory and ground cover were browsed severely, with even crown fern, which is not usually a palatable plant, becoming a target for the ungulate species and putting the lowland podocarp broadleaf forest at risk of forest collapse.  

Photo taken inside the covenant in 2012
The same area inside the covenant in 2020, which shows severe browsing

The funding was used to install 3km of netting around the perimeter of the protected area, and game cameras have been set up in the block to assist the professional hunters that will be engaged to get the last of the deer out. Following that, ongoing effort will be needed to keep the deer under control if they are found in the bush. 

Landowners Delia and Murray are keen to see the forest regenerate to what it once was before it was so severely impacted by deer. “It was really upsetting to see the effect that deer and goats were having on such a special piece of forest,” says Murray. “We were doing everything we could to get rid of them, but we were fighting a losing battle as they were getting into the covenant through the existing fence.” The covenant was protected over 20 years ago and is home to many rare and historically known species such as rōhutu, gully fern and Colenso’s hard fern as well as providing a habitat for long-tailed bats.  

QEII Hawke’s Bay regional representative Troy Duncan is pleased to see funding going towards assisting landowners like Delia and Murray. 

“Delia and Murray did a great thing by protecting their piece of bush with a QEII covenant in 2001 and so it was disappointing to see the future of that area being undermined by browsing deer and goats. I am stoked that Delia and Murray have received this assistance and confident that with ongoing management the understory will regenerate.” 

This is the first existing QEII covenant to receive funding to deer-proof covenants that are being impacted by deer through the project, which is now in its second year. During the first year, two large new QEII covenants were established and received funding for deer fencing through the project. 

The full three-year project will fund deer fencing across multiple sites in the HBRC catchment. The funding is made up of contributions from the Department of Conservation Jobs for Nature fund, Regional Council, QEII and landowners. Pest plant and animal control is also being undertaken where required to ensure the best outcomes for regeneration and recovery.