Adventure Skills Students Assess the Forest

21 May 2014 / Posted by admin

The first 2014 Y9 Adventure Skills group visited the Abel Tasman National Park for their 3-day camp. On the middle day of the camp students worked with Project Janszoon and DOC partners to learn more about the health of the ecosytems around Anchorage.

They learned how to conduct a scientific assessment of the forest. This means that they looked at different elements of ecosystem condition, such as ground cover, understorey, canopy and birds, as well as threats in the areas they were evaluating. After doing the first assessment together, talking about their findings and learning how to score and what to look for, students broke into small groups to complete an assessment on their own. The first forest assessments were done in the lowland area near Anchorage between the Coastal Track and the wetland area. Later, students walked to the ridge above Anchorage to complete another forest assessment in small groups. These areas are pretty different, so there was a lot of contrast in the assessments.

Some people wonder about kiwi in the Abel Tasman NP. We don't know of any kiwi living there right now. But did they ever live in the park? And could they be brought in someday? One of the things you have to know before you bring an animal into a place is whether or not there is enough food for them to eat. The bird expert for Project Janszoon is doing invertebrate surveys all around the park to find out where there is kiwi food. This Y9 group had a chance to do an invertebrate survey to help gather more data from the park. Students had to dig a hole in the soil as deep as a kiwi's beak is long, then sift through the dirt and record what they found. The digging was hard going with so many tree and plant roots, and students were surprised that they hardly found any invertebrates at all in the testing area. This was especially surprising because it was a lowland, shady area and seemed like the soil would be good, or at least okay. When they were finished, one student said, "This would be a terrible place to be a kiwi. You'd starve to death!"