Native Plants are vital to Nationhood not just ‘nice to have, optional extras’.

Wednesday 14th of November 2018, 05:20 PM (2 years ago)

Contact: Gretchen Brownstein |

Speaker: Colin D Meurk, Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research.

New Zealand is a biodiversity hotspot, but sadly also an extinction capital. Part of the excruciating extinction process is ‘extinction of experience’. We haven’t, so far, lost many plant species, but we are rapidly losing the experience as the visible cultural landscape is gobbled up by industrial agriculture, forestry and wilding trees and shrubs without any sensitivity to the unique history of Aotearoa-New Zealand. And with that goes identification with, and protectiveness towards, our special highly endemic nature. Extinction of species and geographic variants will not be far behind unless we reverse the root causes of this attrition.

Colin will illustrate key concepts, causes and novel opportunities in loss and recovery of our flora through urban and rural landscapes where most people form their notions of naturalness. It is there where visibility of biodiversity is a key ingredient of our resident sense of place and of the primeval, clean green brand essential to an authentic tourist industry. He will discuss the urgency of protecting the rarest dryland ecosystems of eastern South Island, their controversial management, biosecurity control, restoration of habitat and of landscape connectivity, novel recombinant ecosystems for urban environments (perhaps the last chance for rare lowland species), heritage legibility and ecological literacy through citizen science within an emerging nationhood. These latter ideas are not new, although the level of urgency and the terminology may not be quite what Leonard Cockayne used a hundred years ago!

You are invited to compare notes on the state of our flora and how we can mend and rebuild its presence in our places and in our consciousness.