Black beech trial

A trial to grow black beech in areas with low-fertility soils may be the answer to controlling the exotic weed hakea in the Park. But it will take many years to see results.

Two species of the invasive weed hakea are well established in the Park and it is not easily controlled by cutting or spraying due to its prolific seeding.  

In 2014 DOC and Project Janszoon began the black beech planting trial on Motuareronui Adele Island looking at beech tree survival in areas of harsh, low-fertility soils that have been burned in the past.  Volunteers from Motueka High School and the Abel Tasman Birdsong Trust have helped plant and monitor the beech which are grown with mycorrhizae fungi, which associate with the roots and help the tree draw nutrients from the soil.

Three years later, the trees have had a 93% survival rate which has given researchers the confidence to take the trial to the mainland.  Sites are being scoped near Anchorage for planting in 2018 when more trees will be available locally.

Ultimately, it is hoped beech tree forests will reestablish on lowland ridges and headlands where the trees would once have dominated.  In turn this will help to restrict the spread and growth of hakea, which prefers a lot of light to survive. 

Hakea light green grows on ridges that have been cleared of beech forest Philip SimpsonHakea are the bright green trees seen in this photo above Anchorage

Education black beech 1Finn Wilson-Howarth from Motueka High School helps with the black beech trial in 2014