Long Bay-Okura Eco Sanctuary
Long Bay-Okura Eco Sanctuary
Restoring Flora & Fauna in Long Bay-Okura
New Zealand native flora and fauna are part of our national treasure and our national heritage and gives a large part of our unique identity as a country and people. There fore deserves to be both protected and restored to areas near our main human populations. Long Bay Regional Park is well suited to fulfilling this purpose.
Creating an open eco sanctuary in the Northern end of the Long Bay Regional Park north from near Vaughans Stream. The concept is based on the existing sanctuaries at:
Zealandia in the Wellington suburbs.
Reasons and explanations –
Our native wildlife is under threat from human development and activities particularly in city precincts. This very apparent when you look at the urban development that is occurring adjacent to the Long Bay Regional Park. As houses are built there will be an increasing number of predators accessing the park, including cats, dogs, rats. There are some native birds that currently inhabit and breed and feed in the regional park that are under pressure for survival and may be driven out through fear or by being unable to breed successfully from predation or having difficulty nesting and feeding due to continuous interruption from dogs and humans.
The Auckland Council has legal obligations under the Wildlife Act 1953 to protect native birds.
LBOES would be the only designated “Eco Sanctuary” area within the North Shore boundary.
By controlling predators at the northern end of the park there will be an increase in native wildlife that will enhance the conservation, educational and recreational values for humans.
LBOES features –
- There is currently enough land already in public ownership to create this project. Long Bay beach adjacent to the proposed LBOES provides a significant feeding area for birds outside off leash dog walking hours.
- There is two sheltered beaches ( Grannies Bay and Pohutakawa Bay ) that have potential for ground nesting birds to breed nest and feed in such as Blue Penguins, Dotterels, Oyster catchers, etc.
- At the northern end of LBOES is the Okura River and estuary that is recognised by the Auckland Council as a significant area for endangered wading birds to feed and breed.
- On the northern side on the Okura Estuary is Department Of Conservation Land owned Okura Bush Scenic Reserve, where there is currently a weed and pest management project.
- Significant areas of existing and regenerating native bush.
- Huge views across the Hauraki Gulf from multiple vantage points.
- There’s also a lot of potential to add features for recreational and educational purposes without adversely affecting the conversational value of the area
- Is adjacent to the Long Bay Okura Marine Reserve, Okura Bush DOC land, and Okura and Stillwater estuaries, all important wildlife feeding and breeding areas.
- LBOES would provide a useful educational asset for MERC (Sir Peter Blake Marine Education and Recreation Centre), that is close at the southern end of Long Bay Beach.
- Recognised as having a Significant Ecological Area in the Auckland District Plan.
- Recognised as being an outstanding Natural Area in the Auckland District Plan.
- There’s also easy access including by the public metropolitan bus service.
The area of outstanding natural landscape in the map above may be increased in the new Auckland Unitary Plan.
Anyone who’s been to Tiri Tiri Matangi Island or Zealandia knows what it’s like to have abundant native flora and fauna around you. Nature therapy is becoming increasingly recognised as having beneficial physiological, and physiological benefits for humans. It can be very therapeutic to be able to relax without the many modern human made intrusions into your mind.
As Auckland population increases and residential property size decreases through development there’s an increasing demand for open recreational space that’s easily accessible. If you try driving north on a sunny weekend day you will encounter heavy traffic flows. By having quality recreational space close to the city there will be a less transport carbon emitted to reach a large recreational space.
To provide additional predator free wildlife habitat in the North-West Wildlink http://www.forestandbird.org.nz/what-we-do/projects/northwest-wildlink
Connect the Crimson walkway with Okura requiring a foot bridge from the end of Okura River Road across tidal mud flats.
Work with other local environmental groups including Long Bay Okura Great Park Society, Friends Of Okura Bush, Okura Residents Association.
Establish more predator controls at the northern end of the regional park north from Vaughans Stream.
Assist the Auckland City Council with planting, weed and predator control.
The dog exercising access hours would remain the same for Long Bay beach off-leash dog access area that ends at the south side of Vaughans Stream. Vaghans Stream is an important feeding area for native birds that often get chased by off-leash dogs. There fore dog access would need to be restricted to near the inland boundary of the regional park north of Vaughans Stream. This would area be amply and conveniently compensated for in the LBOES proposal by having a new dog walking path from near the MERC public car park going inland and up onto the Awaruku Headland portion of the park, where there is potential to establish an off-leash exercise area that could be open at all hours and is accessible without going into the dog prohibited areas of the park.
Reason and explanations –
There needs to be effective dog control beyond Vaughans Stream for our native birds to be able to breed and feed in the Significant Ecological Areas that are recognised in the Auckland District Plan. It would only take one dog to bite the eggs or chicks of a ground nesting bird once each season to destroy the seasons breeding for those birds. Ground nesting coastal birds are restricted to a narrow strip where dog owners like to give their off leash exercise. The chicks defecate in their nest which gives off a strong attractive odour to dogs making the chicks both attractive and vulnerable to dogs. Even on leash dogs are a threat because a nest can be any where above high tide and are camouflaged, to sight but not smell so a dog could bite the eggs or chicks before the dog owner realises what’s happening. If dogs are permitted to enter the proposed LBOES there wouldn’t be much point controlling and/or excluding the other predators, if the largest predator can easily kill the ground nesting birds. It would only take one off leash dog per year at a nesting site to kill a whole seasons fledglings and possibly the parent birds. So if dogs are permitted to be exercised along the coastal track that goes down onto the beaches there’s not much point controlling the smaller predators. Dogs can be destroyed if they are caught killing native wildlife. The owners of dogs that kill native wildlife can be prosecuted and substantial fine imposed on them.
Bottom line aims.
- Establish the Crimson Walk/cycleway suitable for both walkers and cyclists, between Okura Bush Scenic Reserve (DOC) and Piri Piri Point (Long Bay Regional Park). This would require the Auckland City Council to obtain the right of public access to land adjacent to the coastline between the end of Okura River Road and the end of the Long Bay Regional Park. The Crimson walk/cycle way would require a foot bridge to span the approximatly 100 metre wide inlet, east (on the right hand side ) of the end of Okura River Road. Where there’s nearly knee deep mud that can trap unwary pedestrians.
- Preserve remaining natural water courses in the Long Bay – Okura area. Developers often put them into concrete pipes and destroy the wildlife habitat.
- Mark existing park boundaries to avoid confusion over where the public can currently access.
- Protect the Long Bay Regional Park visual backdrop with building height and distance to park boundary restrictions.
- Remove the grazing cattle and if needed replace with sheep if grazing is considered the best option instead of mowing to maintain open grassed areas. Reasons – Cattle are intimidating since they tend to run towards pedestrians. While sheep run away from pedestrians. Cattle can also trample ground nesting bird nests.
There is potential to construct a predator proof fence on the inland boundary in the future. All of the land required for LBOES is currently in public ownership. There are areas that were included in the structure plan that are under review by Auckland Council that would have important effects on the regional park visual backdrop. There’s $824,000 budgeted for 2015-2016 in the 10 years Auckland Council budget to be spent in the development of Long Bay Reserves. Auckland Council politicians have the power to make this project happen.
How you can help – Have you ever wanted to do something practical for to save our native flora and fauna here’s a good opportunity.