Past logging from large areas of the Akatarawa Forest has left a mosaic of forest, bush and shrublands, which provides for a diverse bird and insect life. Some 1,000ha of original lowland podocarp forest and 500ha of red/beech/miro/rimu forest still remains in parts of the Akatarawa Forest. In addition, small but significant stands of the original montane totara/kamahi and miro/kamahi forest remain on high ridges around Mounts Maunganui, Wainui, Titi and Barton.
The forest also includes approximately 3,000ha of exotic species, mainly mixed age pine and macrocarpa forest, which are part of Greater Wellington's plantation forests. There are several wetlands in the Akatarawa and Whakatikei river catchments.
The ecological values are regionally important and include representative examples of original montane and lowland forest associations, including rare ferns and a rich bird life. All of the region's surviving indigenous bird species are found here, including long tailed cuckoos, tui, whitehead, and New Zealand falcon.
Importantly the forest forms links and ecological corridors with other publicly held land in the Akatarawa, Tararua, Rimutaka and Orongorongo Ranges.
As a potential future water supply catchment area, the Akatarawa Forest is managed carefully to protect the rich variety of plant, fish, insect and bird species that make up the forest ecosystem. Greater Wellington has established vegetation and animal abundance plots to monitor vegetation response and animal numbers in the area. Photo points provide a record of vegetation changes at specific sites.
Greater Wellington controls possums and other animal pests using a variety of methods including aerial 1080 poison drops and professional goat hunting. Please take note of control signs and comply with their messages.