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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 12, Issue 1 (April 1, 1937)

The Forest's Power of Recovery

The Forest's Power of Recovery.

Dr. Cockayne frequently pointed out the usefulness of such small trees as manuka as nurse-trees for the larger timbers, especially the kauri. Yet it has been the custom to get rid of the manuka as mere useless “scrub.” He had a strong belief, based on long experience, in the power of much of the indigenous forest to reproduce itself. In his account of the botany of Stewart Island he wrote: “There is a deep-rooted popular belief that when the New Zealand forest is once interfered with, and the light let in through trees being removed, and so on, it is doomed. This opinion is one of those half-truths that arise from an imperfect acquaintance with the facts. It is true that forests do cease to be; but it is not merely the cutting-out of a certain proportion of the trees which has led to their destruction, but fire and cattle-grazing must be added to the destructive influences. In Stewart Island, cut the forest to the ground, burn its last remnant to ashes, and in a very few years, notwithstanding the presence of cattle, it will reappear.”

The indigenous forest, he held, while-some of it was of great value as a source of timber, was for the larger part possibly of greater value in its function as protection forest for conserving and regulating the water supply and preventing erosion.