Notes Antic Disposition

Fire Resistant Planting

Observations from small fire in a regenerating totara forest on Banks Peninsula

Fascinating subtle signs of a fire resistant understorey. eg: Mamahoe criss-crossed trunks bearing the brunt of the flames and protecting a totara sapling.

A few months after the fire, lots of burned and dead mānuka with wide open spaces under the canopy. An abundance of mamahoe and horoeka punching into the clear space at waist to shoulder height.

Unfortunately I don’t have any photos for people more knowledgeable than me to comment on, as I didn’t have my phone on me at the time (being away from those devices was the whole reason I was in the bush that day!)

There’s limited Pakeha research into the fire resistant properties of plants native to Aotearoa. An interesting experiment conducted at AUT in 2017 gives some indication of the raw flammability of the biomass from various different species. How this applies to variable forest remnants scattered into the folds of marginal hill country is something else entirely.

This is an area we really need to listen to people who’ve been observing the land their whole lives and have holistic knowledge, experience and connections through whakapapa as kaitiaki of the ancient forest.

There’s undoubtedly things that kaumatua, botanists, rural firefighters, DOC rangers and many others know that are not documented and not carefully considered by extraction-obsessed functionaries making big decisions about land use.