The Aongatete Forest Restoration Trust administers the Aongatete Forest Project, and manages 500 hectares of native forest in the Kaimai Mamaku Conservation Park, between Tauranga and Katikati. The restoration project is a joint venture between Forest and Bird and the Aongatete Forest Restoration Trust.
The Trust was set up in 2006 by Tauranga Forest and Bird and the Katikati Rotary Club, and is supported by local volunteers, Forest and Bird members, landowners, and Ngai Tamawhariua who have the Kaitiaki (guardianship) role over this forest.
The aim of the project is to restore the wildlife and plant life to a part of the Kaimai Mamaku Forest Park, and demonstrate the benefits of pest control. Ultimately the Trust would like to see widespread pest control throughout the Kaimai Ranges. The ranges are a significant carbon sink, and provide substantial benefits to Western Bay of Plenty watersheds by moderating waterflows into the region. The Kaimai ranges are often subject to very heavy rainfall.
The Trust aims to provide a voice for the Kaimai ranges, and they are a founding member of the Kaimai Mamaku Catchments Forum.
To restore the wildlife and plant life volunteers are doing extensive pest control which involves poisoning ship rats and possums, and maintaining trap lines for mustelids and cats. Their hard work is paying off, with the numbers of birds increasing, along with the volume of insects and spiders which means more food for the birds. With fewer possums, new green shoots and leaves are appearing on kamahi and kohekohe, and king fern and raukaua are regenerating.
The Project also works closely with the Aongatete Outdoor Education Centre, which is a lodge situated in the Forest, with many schools and other groups making use of the accommodation and facilities.