For Week 3 of the SEFS Seminar Series this Wednesday, we’re going to focus your curious gaze on a fascinating story of conservation and ecological restoration on Tiritiri Matangi, a small island on the other side of the world in New Zealand. Bringing his extensive expertise to our doorstep is Mel Galbraith of the Unitec Institute of Technology in Auckland, New Zealand, and we hope you can join us for his talk, “Ecological Restoration of Tiritiri Matangi Island, New Zealand!”

When: Wednesday, April 17, 3:30-4:20 p.m.
Where: Anderson Hall, Room 223
Who’s Invited: It’s open to the public, and all faculty, staff and students are encouraged to attend!

After the seminar, join your colleagues over in the Forest Club Room for a casual reception from 4:30-5:30 p.m. We’ll have snacks, and this spring we’re offering selections from the Fremont Brewing Company (for those of age)!

Saddleback on Tiritiri Matangi Island
Once rare and endangered, the Saddleback, or Tieke, is now thriving on Tiritiri Matangi Island.

Tiritiri Matangi Island, commonly known as “Tiri,” is a low-lying, 254-hectare scientific reserve located three kilometers from mainland New Zealand in the Hauraki Gulf north of Auckland. The island is administered by the Department of Conservation and is supported by a community group, the Supporters of Tiritiri Matangi.

Originally inhabited by Maori, Tiri has a long history of degradation from human activities and habitation, starting with deforestation association with Polynesian colonization of New Zealand, and culminating with European farming practices from the 1850s to the 1970s. When stock was removed from the island, the remaining vegetation covered only 6 percent of the area, and much of that was a canopy with little regeneration underneath. Tiri has been free of all introduced mammals since the Pacific rat (kiore) was eradicated in 1983. A program of vegetation restoration started in 1984, with vegetated cover on the island increasing 60 percent through the planting of 280,000 trees during a 10-year period through 1984. Translocations of species to the island is an ongoing mechanism of restoration for the island itself—as well as providing refuge for species to be restored to other parts of New Zealand in the future.

To date, 15 fauna species have been introduced (12 native to the local ecological district; 6 being used, or having the potential to be used, to populate other restoration habitats), including some with naturally threatened status.

About the Speaker
Galbraith is a senior lecturer in the Department of Natural Sciences at Unitec Institute of Technology. He lectures in the Biodiversity Management major for the school’s Bachelor of Applied Science degree, specializing in biodiversity, ecology and biosecurity. He is active in the Ecological Society of New Zealand (President 2011-2013), Ornithological Society of New Zealand (Regional Representative, Auckland), the Supporters of Tiritiri Matangi (Biodiversity subcommittee), and a past member of the Auckland Conservation Board (1998-2004). His area of interest has always been natural history, especially ornithology and herpetology, which he formalized through post-graduate study at the University of Auckland.

Photo © Duncan Wright.