SERN Autumn Field Trip - Sandy Point Domain
The day began at the Oreti Links building with Sheryll Ashton, ICC Parks and Recreation Landscape Planner, explaining that ICC had contracted Boffa Miskell to bring together a Master Plan for Sandy Point for the next 30-50 years and it would be from this that the management plan would develop. Sheryll gave an overview of the Sandy Point area, which encompasses about 2,000ha of land, commenting that it was important to a lot of groups recreationally, as well as having some high ecological values, along with the exotic pine plantations and marram grass, which had been used in the past to enable sand stabilisation. She then asked us to write down our thoughts as to where we would like to see the area going in the future and these notes would be taken back to those pulling together ideas and recommendations for future management. Plenty of discussion followed with over 80 thoughts being noted.
Following lunch we ventured out, firstly to the area opposite the Mountain Bike Car Park. Lloyd Esler spoke about the fungi found here ( an introduced bolete associated with pine), before we walked down along the Oreti River. It was good to see a native remnant, the saltmarsh ribbonwood (Plagianthus divaricatus). Sheryll explained that the current policy for the ICC was to remove the older exotic trees along the river edge over time and replant with natives.
It was then on to the Rover Track, where we had visited on a SERN trip in 2005. At that point pines had been removed not long since and some native plantings had been undertaken, along with natural regeneration being in evidence. There was discussion about the idea of native screen plantings along the track, leaving the areas behind to regenerate naturally over time, with gorse and broom potentially becoming a nurse crop.
A stop at Daffodil Bay gave naturalist, Lloyd Esler the chance to explain that our biodiversity values are not just threatened locally, explaining that the migration of the godwit and other northern hemisphere birds was declining due to alterations to the habitats they stop over at in Korea and China.
The final stop was at Christies Track, by the Oreti Beach. Here Brian Rance, DOC botanist, described the high value of the Sandy Point area, which had totara forests on sand dunes, a nationally rare ecosystem. Along with that was the dune system and wetland systems, making it a diverse environment. A walk to the beach revealed a specimen of pingao, whether planted or naturally occuring was unknown, however the vision of a section of the dunes beachside being returned to pingao was one many felt worthy of pursuing.
Thanks to Sheryll for her running of the day and to all those who contributed along the way. Also thanks to ICC for the use of the Links building.