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Biodiversity Project Attracts Japanese Funding

Media Release – Embargoed until Midday 21 January
16 January 2008

Waipara Biodiversity Project Attracts Japanese Funding

An ecological restoration programme in North Canterbury has attracted significant financial support from a Japanese company which promotes socially and environmentally responsible business.

The Four Leaf Company, a manufacturer of health food products, has pledged an annual contribution of ¥2million (about $24,000) to the Greening Waipara Project, to support further restoration of the area’s natural ecology.

Greening Waipara is part of a six-year Lincoln University research project backed by $3.3million of funding from the Foundation for Research Science and Technology (FRST). The overall aim is to calculate in dollar terms the value of the services provided to agriculture by Nature’s processes. Work to date has included the use of natural bio-control methods in vineyards, such as growing flowers between vines and composting vine prunings on-site; establishing native plants, restoring waterways and providing habitat for pest-controlling insects.

Four Leaf Company buys chemical-free blackcurrants in fruit and powdered form from Omihi grower Mark Eder, and has previously sent groups of 30 staff and distributors from Japan to see the berry production process first hand.

Steve Wratten, Professor of Ecology at Lincoln University, says the company’s sponsorship offer is a welcome surprise. “Four Leaf is a company founded on ethical business principles and has returned a share of profits to a number of community-based projects around the world. They’re very enthusiastic about the ecological makeover happening in Waipara and keen to support it. It’s a great example of how business and the natural environment can benefit each other.”

Since the establishment of Greening Waipara in 2006 more than 20,000 native plants have been planted on 32 properties. One vineyard alone is planning to plant 25,000. A key goal is to use New Zealand native plants in vineyards to provide a similar bio-control function as the exotic plants that have been established between the vines.

The researchers have also established weta “motels,” by drilling logs to create a new habitat, and “lizard lounges” – shelters made of corrugated roofing material which attract native reptiles.

The Four Leaf delegation will visit the area on January 21, where they will inspect blackcurrant production, plant some more native trees nearby and see the “biodiversity trails” being established on local vineyards.

About the Bioprotection and Ecology Division
The Bioprotection and Ecology Division is responsible for teaching and research into a large number of areas including: Agro-ecology; Biocontrol; Biodiversity; Bio-Protection and Biosecurity; Conservation, Wildlife and Invasion Biology; Entomology; Fungal Genetics; Molecular Systematics; Plant Pathology; and Urban, Forest and Behavioural Ecology. The division has a large research infrastructure with a range of advanced facilities and equipment. Many of its staff are also members of the National Centre for Advanced Bio-Protection Technologies, a campus-based Centre of Research Excellence. www.lincoln.ac.nz


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