A group of Central Hawke's Bay residents' fight to save a rare type of native forest, the only one of its kind in the region, has been bolstered by a grant from the Department of Conservation.
For almost two decades the landowners, who have recently formed the Gwavas Charitable Trust for the Puahanui Bush, had been working to eradicate weeds from the 130-hectare private forest, which is home to trees such as rimu, totara and matai.
DOC have given the Trust a grant from its Community Fund, which was set up in 2014 to distribute $26 million over four years to grassroots groups working on conservation projects in their local communities.
"For decades this piece of bushland has been strangled by common ivy, with the weed spreading to two thirds of the forest. In some places there were at least seven native species that just stopped growing," project manager Kay Griffiths said.
"Today, while there are still small bits of ivy in the bush, there is nowhere near as much as there used to be, but it has taken a long time to get the levels down."
Ms Griffiths said it had taken a long time to get the ivy levels down and the Trust was now in the maintenance phase of the weed control programme, which would take a long time because it's not known how long the seeds are viable for.
"The funding from DOC will help us to target these plants and maintain what we have done in the past."
She said the local landowners had also helped to control the weed by creating a buffer zone on their properties.
"The plan now is to allow the forest to regenerate, which previously the ivy was preventing it from doing."
The bushland, which is privately owned, is located behind the Gwavas Garden property in Tikokino and has been kept intact by the same family which has owned the property for more than a century.
"It is amazing that this forest exists and that it wasn't levelled to make way for more farmland," Ms Griffiths said.
The project manager said this was just one of several reasons the particular piece of bush was so important to the Hawke's Bay region, and why the Trust was working so hard to preserve it.