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Trip Report – Korohiwa – Bodhiyanarama Buddhist monastery forest, Stokes Valley

Trip Report – 3 October 2015 :   Bodhiyanarama Buddhist monastery forest, Stokes Valley

On a sunny morning we botanised this impressive forest at the head of Stokes Valley, walking through the 51-ha block with pockets of original forest.   These pockets survived the last of the forest fires about 90 years ago, because they were located in damp gullies at the head of Stokes Valley stream which flows through this block to the Hutt River.

Three visitors associated with the monastery joined us on our exploration, keen to learn more about their special environment, and what they could do to protect it.   Simon Fern, a monastery committee member, and also trip co-leader, was unfortunately unable to join us, but is committed to initiating progress on this.

Using a species list compiled in 1997 by Barbara Mitcalfe, Chris Horne and Tan Sugato (then the monastery’s head monk), we made numerous additions to the lists of indigenous and exotic plants.   As a result of their collective work, Tan Sugato had set up the monastery’s Forest Committee who decided to designate the monastery block as a Native Reserve (sic), and prepared a policy document outlining their vision and direction strategy, to be followed later by more practical plans.   This however did not eventuate.   We have offered Simon BotSoc’s support for his efforts to follow up Tan Sugato’s vision.

Cyathea cunninghamii
Cyathea cunninghamii.   Photo: Jeremy Rolfe.

We met in the car-park, passed another car-park by a bank with rewarewa and manuka scrub, and many mature Gahnia setifolia, heavy with seed.   From there, we walked along the main loop track which wound past a majestic, gleaming golden stupa, visible from most parts of Stokes Valley.   At the start of the track we saw several planted native species, including kauri.   The numerous weed species gradually decreased in number as we entered the forested areas, coming to a stand of mature hard beech.   We branched off the main track onto a little-used track, in need of maintenance.   This led us past three large rimu with seedlings nearby.   The terrain is steep, the track difficult in places, and the diversity of species was impressive.   The presence of tall Cyathea cunninghamii / gully tree fern featured in the gullies, and excited our interest because we do not often see it in the region.   We saw numerous Pteris macilenta in sunny spots, to our surprise.

The several mature rimu and hard beech, and abundant kiekie, are significant, because these species are indicators of the ‘primary forest’ remnant status of this part of the forest.   (See: An inventory of the surviving traces of the primary forest of Wellington City.   Dr Geoff Park, Feb. 1999 for Wellington City Council).

The last part of the track follows the stream down towards the car-park.   Many large, fleshy Cardiocrinum giganteum / giant lily, growing by the stream had spread along the track.   Jasmine agreed work was needed to remove them.   Some pest-animal control work has been done, but the presence of territorial possum-bite marks, and browsing on main stems of e.g., some Coprosma species, and hangehange, show that this ecologically-important forest would benefit from sustained pest-animal control.

We all enjoyed the trip.   It was very productive – not counting planted specimens, we had added 35 indigenous plant species and 9 introduced species, 3 indigenous bird species and 4 introduced species; 1 snail species (Wainuia urnula), and the cocoon of the bagmoth, Liothula omnivera.   Hugh Robertson heard his first shining cuckoo / pipiwharauroa for the season, and added NZ falcon karearea to the list.

We thank Ajahn Khusalo for the opportunity to visit, and we encourage readers to take advantage of the monastery’s policy to grant the community access to their walks without needing permission.

Participants:   Morgan Cox*, Gavin Dench, Richard Grasse, Chris Horne, Barbara Mitcalfe, Leon Perrie, Hugh Robertson, Jeremy Rolfe, Lara Shepherd, Sunita Singh (leader / scribe), Jasmine Toynbee*, Veronique*, Julia White.   (* = monastery).


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