CASE STUDY | Biodiversity improvements at Wiroa Orchard
Wiroa Orchard is a 137ha property purchased in 2019 for conversion to a kiwifruit orchard. When planting is complete, the orchard will include 12ha of red kiwifruit, 70ha of gold kiwifruit, 4.4ha of bush remnant where kiwi still live, and approximately 17ha of new native plantings on slopes and gullies unsuitable for orchard establishment.
The 17ha of native planting was completed in October 2020 and includes 27 different species, four forest types and 43,000 plants in total. This included planting gullies and pasture slopes with a mix of native tree and shrub species that will grow into kahikatea, kauri and tōtara forests which will increase the area of suitable habitat for the resident kiwi.
This planting helps with challenges such as erosion of steep banks, while enhancing pollination and improving biodiversity, waterway quality and wildlife. The second stage of native planting was completed in late July 2022 adding another 8ha to finish the project.
Wiroa Orchard is also participating in Plant and Food New Zealand’s three-year study of insect populations across the block, as well as investing in control of exotic pest species to improve biodiversity and help protect the precious kiwi habitat. The picture above was captured by a camera installed to study the kiwi.
Along with the native planting we are running a program of over 100 traps with community members to reduce numbers of introduced predators that prey on New Zealand’s native fauna, and especially the iconic kiwi. This is the third year of trapping and almost 1,000 mammalian predators (eg. stoats, rats) have been eliminated.