The lowland Canterbury Plains of New Zealand have been extensively modified since human occupation, but with recent conversions to irrigated dairy farming very few remnants of native dryland vegetation remain in the region. We investigated soil chemistry, plant distribution and soil invertebrates along transects in Bankside Scientific Reserve, a small (2.6 ha) remnant. The vegetation is a mosaic of native woody shrubs, predominantly Kunzea serotina (kanuka, Myrtaceae) and Discaria toumatou (matagouri, Rhamnaceae), and dry grassland.
Primary successions involving teatree (Kunzea ericoides var. ericoides with some Leptospermum scoparium) were studied on shallow landslide scars on soft sedimentary (mudstone) hill country under extensive pastoral use in the East Cape (Tairawhiti) region, using a 5-72 yr chronosequence established from sequential aerial photography and the age of the oldest teatrees on scars. Dynamics of primary even-aged teatree stands are similar to those in secondary successions on reverting pasture described previously from the region.
Exclosure plots established in three separate areas of kanuka (Kunzea ericoides var. ericoides) forest on south Kaipara spit in 1983 to assess the impact of introduced fallow deer (Dama dama) were remeasured in 1993. Kanuka shared canopy dominance with mapou (Myrsine australis), houpara (Pseudopanax lessonii) and mahoe (Melicytus ramiflorus ssp. ramiflorus) in relatively old forest in Lookout Bush, Woodhill, and dominated exclusively in two younger stands at South Head; Coprosma rhamnoides dominated understories throughout.
The dominant native woody species forming early-successional vegetation on formerly forested sites in lowland New Zealand were kānuka (Kunzea ericoides) and mānuka (Leptospermum scoparium) (Myrtaceae). These have been replaced extensively by gorse (Ulex europaeus, Fabaceae), a naturalised species in New Zealand. Because gorse typically gives way to native broadleaved (angiosperm) forest in about 30 years, it is often considered desirable for facilitating native forest restoration.