The New Zealand Native Forest Restoration Trust was founded in 1980 following a campaign against the felling of giant totara in Pureora Forest. The primary aim of the Trust is to encourage and undertake restoration of degraded or destroyed New Zealand indigenous habitats and plant communities. This small group of dedicated people have acquired and protected well over 7,000 hectares of native forest and wetlands creating reserves throughout the North and South Islands. After each reserve is purchased, a covenant for permanent protection through the Queen Elizabeth II National Trust is placed on the land, a management plan is developed and an Honorary Ranger who lives in the local area is appointed to assist with management. In some cases a local group takes responsibility for the management of a reserve, carrying out weed and animal pest control and planting trees.
Today there is a more general acceptance of the need to preserve all our remaining indigenous forest and many groups around the country are working hard to protect what is left.
We have squandered most of it in the past to make farmland and pasture, to build towns and roads, and to plant quick-growing plantation forests for timber and paper pulp. The results of these activities are all too obvious: flooding; siltation of rivers and estuaries; loss of some of our best fishing waters; a disastrous loss of wildlife, especially birds, with hundreds of species of animal and plant life on the endangered list; and an incredible failure to appreciate what many people travel round the world to see – real, unspoiled New Zealand native forest. We must not continue to make the same mistakes.
The Trust is working to ensure that representative types of forest are secured, large enough to ensure their viability in the future; that all our remaining native birds and animals have an assured future; that the full diversity of our native forests is preserved for all time. Such an objective is not easily achieved. It takes a long time to make a forest, but nature quickly makes a start once degraded land is fenced off and left undisturbed. Permanent guardianship by the Native Forest Restoration Trust helps towards this outcome.