Tree Tops (Canopy taller than 3m)


Damage to the forest canopy is often caused by possums, but native birds, insects, and weather can cause damage too.  Clues are; many bare branches, only a few leaves left, large parts of the tree dead, and ragged looking leaves.  In New Zealand the density of possums (number per area) is only limited by the amount of food.  So possum numbers always increase to the point where they damage or eliminate tree and plant species. Check the damage with binoculars; possums chewed leaves are usually ‘torn’ roughly with midribs and occasionally lower portions of leaves left uneaten.

Can be confused with:

Birds like kereru can also strip leaves from a tree and cause ragged edges.  However kereru bites have round tips. 

Insects can also damage leaves and fruits, but usually they cause smaller holes and holes away from the leaf edge. 

Bad storms and salt-spray can cause leaves to fall off too.  If all species in an area are affected, rather than just the ones possums really like, then it may be a weather event.

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Goats are able to feed by standing on their hind legs, which means that they can reach vegetation that is 2 m high, which can include the top of shrubs and small trees. Goats are surefooted and will sometimes climb sloping trunks and branches to reach even higher. They are also superb rock climbers and will browse vegetation and the fruits and flowers of some species if these are within reach.

Can be confused with:
Deer species can sometimes reach high enough to browse the top of short trees and shrubs. Possums will also eat canopy foliage, but there will be fewer broken branches hanging down.

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