Hutt at Heart

Drone shows flowering on endangered tree

Council’s drones have once again proved valuable for the parks team, this time by being able to investigate whether an endangered species of tree in one of Lower Hutt’s reserves is going to flower this year.

There are only 13 Bartlett’s rata trees left in the wild – it is a critically endangered species that has a natural range around Cape Reinga. There are seven trees of this species planted in the gardens at Percy Scenic Reserve and before now, only one of them has been known to flower.  We suspected that there were flowers on a second Bartlett’s rata, but it was difficult to tell because the top of the tree is about 5 meters off the ground and the flower buds are so small.

The Land information team at Hutt City Council has drones that they regularly use for a wide range of asset management and mapping purposes. We thought we could use the drone to confirm the presence of flower buds on this precious tree.  After less than 10 minutes and a dozen high-resolution images we were able to confirm that this tree will be flowering for the first time this year! The end result is that this tree has the potential to be included in future propagation studies.

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