New Zealand Journal of Ecology (1982) 5: 121- 128

Matai Totara Flood-Plain Forests in South Westland

Research Article
G. D. McSweeney  
  1. Westland National Park, P.O. Box 14, Franz Josef, New Zealand

A survey of matai (Podocarpus spicatus) / totara (Podocarpus totara var. waihoensis) forest in South Westland recorded that c. 600 ha of these forests remain from a possible former 43,000 ha. Basal discs cut from logged or windthrown matai and totara showed a strong linear relationship between diameter and age (annual growth rings). Detailed surveys of stands showed grouping of size class distributions, reflecting the seral nature of these forests. A pattern of continuous regeneration of matai/totara forests in the region for at least the last 400 years is apparent and there is no evidence of any climatically-induced regeneration gap. Widespread grazing has destroyed much recent regeneration, particularly of matai. The reservation of the remaining stands of matai/totara forest is advocated as a matter of urgency since 25% of the remaining forests in South Westland have been logged or cleared in the last two years.