Conference 2003

Conference 2003
Greening the City:
Bringing Biodiversity Back
into the Urban Environment


Saving Threatened Native Plant Species in Cities:
from Traffic Islands to Real Islands

John Sawyer (Department of Conservation, Wellington)

While offshore islands offer a more traditional option for native plant conservation in New Zealand, traffic islands and road reservations are now being used in the Wellington region as an integral part of plant species recovery projects.

Urban environments offer areas of public land where plants can be grown on a long-term basis. In the past, mainly exotic plants have been used but in Wellington, threatened native plants are now being used. If a council must vegetate its urban areas then why not use native plant species, and especially threatened species, so that the plantings can contribute to protecting New Zealand's unique plant life.

Threatened native plants grown in traffic islands are used as:

  • Insurance populations in case the wild population is destroyed;
  • A research and educational resource;
  • A source of seeds and plants to be used in species recovery work in the wild.

Threatened plant species grown in traffic islands can be valuable components of a plant conservation programme but can also be attractive parts of the urban landscape. The islands are well protected by the roads that surround them. Browsing animals, such as possums, are unable to access them and council staff keep the islands free of weeds.

This paper describes some examples of threatened species programmes in Wellington that rely on urban ex-situ management of threatened plants. This paper also describes how ex-situ plant conservation in Wellington is tied in with island restoration programmes.

Conference sponsored by:

British Council NZ
The Community Trust
Landcare Research

Follow this link to view other organisations supportive of the conference

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Last updated: October 12, 2003