A 20-year forest health plan led by nine hapu will complete aerial 1080 poison drops in Russell State Forest and at Cape Brett, backed up with traps.
The hapu has been working with the Department of Conservation (DOC) to devise the first long-term plan of its kind, aimed at knocking back a devastating pest population, and other forest restoration measures, a DOC spokeswoman said.
"All Northland aerial pest operations have worked jointly with iwi on the operations, so this isn't new, but having a 20-year forest health plan led by the ropu is, and this is the key," she said.
Around 8800ha of conservation, private and iwi-owned forests will be covered with 1080-infused baits, starting in the next week or two, targeting Russell Forest roughly between Waikare, Tapuhi, Punaruku and Karetu, and the Cape Brett Peninsula from Whangamumu to the lighthouse, excluding the Tangatapu catchment.
"All Northland aerial pest operations have worked jointly with iwi on the operations, so this isn't new, but having a 20-year forest health plan led by the ropu is, and this is the key."
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Russell State Forest has been considered on the brink of collapse for several years, with DOC, hapu, Forest & Bird and others calling for urgent measures to save it.
A change in attitudes to 1080 drops in recent years, since the application has been refined and the poison's life reduced to three days or less, has seen conservationists and hapu advocate for aerial applications, which have an immediate impact, but there is still strong opposition from some quarters.
In November last year Forest & Bird Northland advocate Dean Baigent-Mercer said the state of the 11,500ha Russell Forest was a tragedy. He supports the use of 1080, saying initial results showed that the eco-system could recover fairly quickly, but a greater strike was needed.
DOC has posted public notices in media about where the drops will take place and warning people not to touch the baits, let children or animals near them, and not to eat or let their dogs eat contaminated carcasses.
The pre-feed drop, to offer pests a taste of what will then be laced with poison, is likely to take one day. The drop of the poison pellets is expected to be completed over two days by two helicopters some time after Monday.