Anthropogenic tōtara forest ecosystem (AVS1)

Human influenced ecosystem

About this ecosystem

Tōtara has the ability to regenerate rapidly after a catastrophic disturbance such as fire, volcanoes and clearance. It is regenerating as a pioneer species in northern New Zealand.  It is unpalatable to stock, is able to grow quickly in short pasture and areas disturbed by stock. In some areas, it forms a monoculture of tōtara with few other species present. 

Anthropogenic tōtara forest occurs on moderately steep pastoral hill country with low to moderate soil fertility. It is also present in some localised areas along river margins.

In Auckland, it is common in the hill country in Rodney and parts of the  Manukau Ecological District. 

Tōtara forest sites that are fenced and have a seed source close by are likely to transition to other forest ecosystems over time. 

Hills covered with totara trees and cows grazing on pasture in the foreground.
Anthropogenic tōtara forest in Whangaripo valley.
Photo credit: Jason Hosking

Flora and fauna in this ecosystem

Tōtara is the dominant colonising species in this ecosystem.  Kānuka and mānuka may also be present but these species are suppressed as the tōtara stands mature. Unfenced sites typically have minimal understorey due to stock grazing.

It can support a range of fauna such as:

  • kererū (New Zealand pigeon)
  • ruru (morepork)
  • kōtare (kingfisher)
  • piwakawaka (fantail)
  • riroriro (grey warbler)
  • tūī
  • geckos.

Threats to this ecosystem 

Nationally, this ecosystem is increasing in marginal hill country. It is one of the few ecosystems that are not considered threatened.