The Waikaia ecological region: results of protected natural area surveys of the Umbrella and Nokomai ecological districts
Comprehensive ecological surveys of the 150,000 ha Umbrella Ecological District and 116,000 ha Nokomai Ecological District in western Otago/northern Southland were conducted in 1985/86 and 1986/87 respectively. The two districts comprise the Waikaia Ecological Region.
Detailed study was made of areas representative of each district's indigenous plant associations, fauna, and landforms which had the highest natural values available, and presented the greatest contiguous sequences. Approximately 500 plots document the range in vegetation types. These fall within the lowland, montane, subalpine, low-alpine, and high-alpine bioclimatic zones.
Generally, land modification is least above 1000 m elevation. Below these altitudes sites of high natural value tend to be fragmentary. Nevertheless, the region possesses a rich and diverse biota and several plant and animal species reach a geographic limit within it, particularly in the alpine zone. A number of species of restricted distribution also occur here.
From the data collected, subsequent analyses and interpretation, Priority Places for Protection (PPPs) have been identified such that the region's remaining indigenous ecosystems are fully represented. These PPPs are additional to, and complement, three existing protected areas within the region, which predominantly protect forest habitats. Given the substantial land development in both districts, most of the areas identified are in the uplands. An outline of these will be given.