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Rata Returns to the Gorge

11 September 2008

Rata Returns to the Gorge

Chris Thomasen from Feilding has won a 2008 Conservation Award for her outstanding commitment to conservation in the community. She received the award at a packed Forest and Bird Manawatu meeting this week in Palmerston North

In presenting the award, Jason Roxburgh, Area Manager for the Department of Conservation (DOC), described the variety of ways Chris has contributed to conservation over many years. She is best known in the community for her skill in propagating and growing on native trees, and in particular Rata, “Chris’s particular dedication to Northern Rata, and her enthusiasm for a vision of the Manawatu Gorge again ablaze with Rata red, continues to inspire everyone involved in restoring the Gorge ecosystem” said Mr Roxburgh.

Chris has always been an outdoors person enjoying gardening and tramping in particular. Her keen interest in native plants, along with artistic ability and an eye for detail have seen her become a leading botanical artist and illustrator. She recently volunteered these skills as a judge for the schools “Bust a Weed” competition which was part of Conservation Week celebrations this week.

After completing a native plants course in 1995 Chris became an avid propagator of native plants. Her primary focus has been leading the Project Crimson team for the local Forest and Bird organisation which involves collecting, germinating, growing on and planting Rata back into the Manawatu Gorge. Currently there are at least 500 Rata at various stages of growth in her back garden. “They can take anything up to 7 or 8 years to grow big and strong enough to be planted out in the Gorge,” said Miss Thomasen. “It can be quite a harsh environment”. There are many other native species grown from seed, most of which go into her own restoration project on the family farm in the Makino Valley, and any surplus is given to other projects in the community.

Mr Roxburgh expressed appreciation from DOC for the very many voluntary hours Chris puts into conservation. “We can achieve so much more for conservation with the long term commitment from enthusiastic people like Chris willing to put in so much personal effort.”


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