September's aerial 1080 pest control operation at Rakaumangamanga/Cape Brett and Russell Forest had been even more successful than expected according to DoC's northern North Island operation director Sue Reed-Thomas.

The rat population in Russell Forest had almost been wiped out, she said, and possum numbers had dropped to 20 per cent of what they were prior to the operation.

Similar results had been achieved at Rakaumang-amanga, with no rats or mice detected and possum numbers down 90 per cent.

"These results show outstanding success, and prove the effectiveness of aerial 1080 to control pests in a large area over a short period of time," Ms Reed-Thomas said.


"These low levels of pests have allowed the spring breeding of native bird life to have a higher chance of survival, and the overall health of the forest will start to regenerate already. Native birds can produce more chicks, the ngahere can grow and provide kai to native birds, lizards and insects."

Reducing the pests to such a low level was just the beginning, however. DoC was committed to working with hapū and communities to keep numbers low, to restore kukupa and kiwi in abundance and bring back other native species to the forests.

"We will continue to support the work of the Russell Roopu to implement the 20-year forest health plan, with the long-term goal of forest restoration.

"The use of aerial 1080 to restore the forest is the first step in the plan," she said.

Russell, the largest forest ecosystem in eastern Northland, was home to a number of threatened animals and plants, including the king fern, forest gecko, kauri snail and longfin eel.

Kukupa were once abundant but were now scarce, while kakariki and kaka were believed to be locally extinct as a result of sustained attack from possums, stoats, weasels, rats and feral cats.

The ngahere of Rakaumangmanga was part of the little coastal broadleaf forest that remained in Northland, and home to threatened species including kiwi, reef heron and kukupa.

DoC acknowledged the support of Rawhiti 3B2 Ahu Whenua Trust at Rakaumangmanga/Cape Brett and the Russell Forest Roopu in conducting the aerial 1080 operations.