Turnbull Family Reserve
For open space in New Zealand
Nga Kairauhi Papa
This is a protected area.
So reads the notice at the entrance to Sherwood Forest. Visitors are welcome with prior permission. This section on Native Bush has had its tribulations and the following is a little bit of the history.
This 47 hectare remnant of alluvial flood plain and reparian forest type is situated at the confluence of the Hedgehope and Makarewa Rivers on the Southland Plains. This ancient New Zealand podocarp forest dominated by large Matai and Kahikatea trees several hundred years old has a significant element of good luck in its preservation. This took the form of land ownership in that the former owner chose to keep the bush rather than fell it. He ran cattle on the undergrowth but when the time came to sell he would only to sell to someone who promised to protect the area. There were other buyers before Derek and Pat Turnbull but they were the only ones interested in undertaking to preserve the bush.
The forest found here is dominated by matai with some kahikatea on the alluvial flood plain, while along the old Hedgehope River is a mixed riparian forest. These two types of forest are two of the most reduced forest types both in Southland and nationally. Only small remnants of what was once an extensive forest now remain. This remnant is one of the largest left on the Southland Plains. A special feature of the forest is that it forms the habitat of several plants listed as nationally threatened. These include Hector’s tree daisy, Coprosma pedicella, Coprosma obconica , Olearia hectorii, Pittosporum obcordatum, Pseudopanax ferox C.wallii, Melicytus flexuosus, and Coprosma virescens is uncommon.
The snow and severe frosts of the winter of 1996 caused much damage to trees throughout Southland. The canopy of Sherwood Forest was severely damaged and over 200 trees were killed including ancient matai (Prumnopitys taxifolius). This has allowed increased light to the forest floor that in turn has allowed weeds such as bitter sweet , elderberry, hawthorn and Chilean flame creeper have all gained a foothold and are flourishing to such an extent that they threaten the natural regeneration of the native forest in places.
In 2002 the Regional Biodiversity Co-ordination Group for Southland was formed to identify biodiversity issues in Southland and means to assist projects. The group applied to the Ministry for Environment’s Biodiversity Condition Fund to assist restoration at Sherwood Forest and the bid was successful. This bid was suffcessful again in recently so more restoration is planned.
The objectives are ambitious and the fund is seen as ‘seed money’ to kickstart the project. Initially, the goals are to reduce the impact of invasive weeds and animal pests. Modified areas will be planted with appropriate species and threatened plant populations will be enhanced via propagation and revegetation.
This is an exciting project and although severe damage has been suffered the area can still be enjoyed by visiting parties. A notice board has been erected and a sample of each type of tree found in the Reserve is being nurtured at the beginning of the Track. You can’t help but notice the effect nature has had on the Covenant as you walk down the Track but new life is beginning to nurture and in the years to come hopefully it will progress.
Groups are most welcome to visit and bring their lunch, have it in the gardens or the the Reserve, or have their meetings here. Prior bookings are essential.
We have a small basic accommodation unit in our garden to which two/three visitors are welcome to book for’ time out’ to enjoy the Reserve . Adequate facilities.. More often than not we have pigeons, bellbirds and tuis .