Relations between vertebrates and forest after the Balmoral forest fire
On November 26 to 28, 1955, a forest fire fanned by a north-west gale destroyed approximately one-third of the planted area of the 24,000 acre Balmoral State Forest, the second largest exotic forest in the South Is- land, New Zealand. This paper records observations made one week and three-and-one- half months after the fire, on the effects of the fire on the vertebrate animals present, and on the effects of the vertebrates on natural regeneration following the fire. Conclusions are preliminary in nature and deal largely with the four-month post-fire period.
Most of the forest trees are between 24 and 39 years of age. The major components of the forest are radiata pine (Monterey pine) (Pinus radiata), Western yellow pine (P. ponderosa), and Corsican pine (P. laricio).
Areas affected by the fire were largely destroyed. In some areas the fire was con- fined to the forest crown, in others to the ground and the lower tiers, and in other areas only charred and limbless tree trunks were left standing above the ash covered, cracked ground. Several small islands of forest were left almost untouched and completely surrounded by burned trees and some of the fire breaks were little affected by the fire. Most severe ground fires occurred in those areas where pine regeneration and shrub growth were plentiful and where dead trees from early thinnings were lying about.
Birds were watched feeding and crop con- tents of 32 birds were examined. Fourteen sample lines, each with ten evenly spaced mil-acre plots, were run through typical sections of the burned and unburned areas to record number of seedlings undamaged, damaged or destroyed, the number of wheat seedlings, and the presence or absence of animal droppings.