Alarming new footage of forest collapse

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Forest & Bird has released two dramatic videos showing how Northland's forests, which are undergoing a masting event this year, are collapsing due to chronic underfunding of the Department of Conservation and lack of pest control.

With a $20 million emergency response to southern beech forest masting confirmed for this year's budget, Forest & Bird said it is worried that Northland's collapsing forests will be forgotten by the Government again.

Forest & Bird says DoC in Northland needs an extra $10-20 million over 10 years to turn the situation around.

"The severe under-funding and restructuring of DoC means there is no pest monitoring and response plan for Northland forests," Forest & Bird's Northland conservation advocate Dean Baigent-Mercer said.

"Since spring, there has been a bumper season of native tree species flowering and fruiting in Northland, making this a unique masting event. Now the rats are coming home to roost, literally."

Without the harsh winters, regions like Northland have higher background levels of rats and stoats throughout the year.

Local groups are working hard controlling pests but they are unable to do the job on their own.

Community pest control group Bay Bush Action carries out pest control in 450 hectares of Opua Forest behind Paihia.

"Our stoat traps aren't killing any stoats because they've been constantly full of rats. It's been absolutely crazy over the past month," Brad Windust of Bay Bush Action said.

"Historically, when our native forests were full of birds, bugs, lizards and bats, these bumper food crops would have been the years of plenty," Mr Baigent-Mercer said.

"Birds could have an extra batch of chicks and more seedlings were produced. But now all that extra food ends up feeding pests that keep destroying the native forests. We need new tools to knock down the introduced pests, but first and foremost we need a guaranteed funding increase for Northland DoC to work towards a response to collapse and masting, and bring these forests back to life."

The video can be viewed online at: www.forestandbird.org.nz/stopforestcollapse

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