Ecology and management of South Island beech forests: The life history of mountain beech (Nothofagus solandri var. cliffortioides).
- Protection Forestry Division, Forest Research Institute, Rangiora.
The object of this paper is to summarise present knowledge of the life history of mountain beech (Nothofagus solandri var cliffortioides). This task is not as straight forward as it may seem. Mountain beech occupies a wider range of habitat than any other New Zealand tree species and it shows a corresponding range of life form, seeding habits, regenerative patterns, growth habits, growth rates, stand replacement and mortality patterns. It is a species which forms the highest timberlines in the country, growing at altitudes in excess of 1500 m as in the Wairau Valley in Marlborough. On the other hand, in Southland and Fiordland, mountain beech occurs on escarpments and rocky outcrops at sea level where it is often subjected to salt spray. With the exception of halls totara (Podocarpus hallii), it occupies drier sites than other New Zealand large tree species and forms mono typic stands in areas of eastern Canterbury, Marlborough and inland Otago where the rainfall may be less than 100 mm annually. In contrast, it is also a component of the stunted forest on the poorly drained and boggy pakihi sites of the West Coast where the rainfall exceeds 500 mm. In Fiordland, mountain beech occupies sites on slow weathering parent rock where the soil mantle is extremely thin; it is also a component of the scrub on the very poor soil derived from the ultra-basic rocks in the vicinity of the Dun Mountain in Nelson and the Red Hills region of South Westland.