Share this story!
Urban forests heal both humans and nature. Just outside of the center of Wellington you can hear 40 different bird species singing.The chorus also includes species that have been absent for generations. Zealandia, a massive urban forest, is helping to prove that restoring native forests in cities will help bring back native species.
Described as an eco-sanctuary, the park is having a halo effect on bird communities living in the country’s capital. The park opened in 1999 and since then native birds have increased during annual counts by 50%. Other species, which are shy but not particularly rare, have come back in even stronger numbers. For example, the kākā had increased by 250%, kererū by 186%, and tūī by 121%.
“In the 1990s seeing a tūī in suburban Wellington was a big deal, let alone a kākā,” Adam Ellis, a keen birdwatcher in Wellington, told the Guardian, reporting on the news. “Zealandia … created such a change in bird life that birds like tūī became a common garden bird.”
“When you see birds in your backyard that no one else has, it makes you want to do something for them,” Gini Letham, the parks lead ranger told the Guardian.
“One of our main missions is to connect people with nature—it’s not necessarily coming here for a bush walk, but it’s also about looking after nature in their own backyard and spreading it past just the sanctuary.”
Even though this park has helped bird populations immensely, other creatures also enjoy the beautiful sanctuary. People visiting the park can spot freshwater mussel colonies, frogs, the eponymous New Zealand eel species and the wētā which is a giant cricket. Good News Network writes that really lucky people can also see a tuatara that may look like a lizard, “but it’s one of the planet’s truly unique species, as it evolved back in the Triassic Period, and is the only surviving member of its group of species, which split away from snakes and lizards before the age of the dinosaurs.”