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Plan To Prevent Extinction Of 200 Native Plants

Conservation Minister Nick Smith today launched a plan setting out the conservation priorities for New Zealand’s most threatened native plants at a site where recovery is taking place, pest-free Moutohora (Whale) Island in the Bay of Plenty.

"This plan is another step forward in our battle to turn the tide of decline in our native species. Kiwi and kakapo get top billing in the line up of native species under threat, but there's a whole raft of plants that join them like kaka beak, bartletts rata and tecomanthe. The threats are all similar - it's introduced pests like possums, habitat loss and the impacts of weeds that cause most of the damage."

Conservation Requirements of New Zealand’s Nationally Threatened Vascular Plants sets out key actions needed to restore populations of 223 of New Zealand's most threatened plants - the top 10 per cent. The document is a useful summary of the status of these plants and includes clear diagrams.

"New Zealand has lost at least 11 plant species since humans arrived in New Zealand, and many more are under threat of extinction. This plan only covers the tip of the iceberg of threatened plants - the top 10 per cent. Another 10 per cent of New Zealand's 2400 native plants are under some form of threat, with another 20 per cent yet to be fully described and some of these will definitely be under threat. The plan doesn't even touch on plants like mosses, fungi and lichens or marine flora, which also face threats."

The restoration programme on Moutohora is a joint community exercise supported by Ngati Awa, Naturally Native New Zealand Plants Ltd, Wildland Consultants Ltd, Fletcher Challenge Forests Ltd and the Department of Conservation. The nine species being transferred are sand tussock, sea spurge, sand pimelea, native cucumber, New Zealand cress, tawapou, parapara and pingao. Further threatened plants will be translocated to the island in future years, with ongoing monitoring of recent plantings to assess establishment rates and long term survival. Moutohora has been pest-free since 1987.

"Among all the doom and gloom of statistics, we are making inroads into saving threatened species through projects like the restoration of Moutohora Island. Today 400 plants from nine threatened coastal species are being planted on the island. This project shows how a community can work together to make a real difference for conservation and threatened plants in their backyard."

ENDS

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