New Zealand Journal of Forestry (1960) 8(2): 293–324
©New Zealand Institute of Forestry
Establishment of Red-deer Range in the Tararua Mountains
Mavis M. Davidson and R. I. Kean
In the Tararua mountains red deer followed a normal pattern of rapid development, but territory had to be established before resources could be utilised efficiently. The basic features of deer range were eventually established and population balance is now largely determined by sustained-yield food plants of low quality.
In the Tararuas a new type of forest is evolving through the influence of deer, forest of the pre-European type being rapidly altered although some of its components will remain in existence for centuries. Recognition of the distinctness of these two forests, which belong to different biological eras, is necessary in any comprehensive ecological study, for what may be damage or degradation for the old may be progress for the new.
The evolution of a stable forest of high quality would be advantageous to red deer because in such a habitat they would be well placed to maintain themselves against competition from smaller mammals. Even under optimum conditions, it could not be assumed either that considerable degradation would not occur on parts of the range, or that the general forest would be satisfactory from the viewpoint of national economy, so that deer and the forest require continuous attention. In the Tararua mountains, deer populations have been stable or declining during the last decade, and in future, increase or decrease in the population will depend upon the application of ecology rather than upon the number of deer killed. In a protection forest management should utilise natural trends rather than strive, by unselective hunting, to bring back forests of the past.