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184 New Zealand plants on brink of extinction

184 New Zealand plant species on brink of extinction

Urgent changes in land management policies and practices are needed if the rapid decline in native plant species is to be halted.

That's the conclusion drawn by the NZ Plant Conservation Network in a new book launched today by Minister of Conservation Kate Wilkinson.

Threatened Plants of New Zealand, published by Canterbury University Press, is a project of the NZ Plant Conservation Network (NZPCN) and highlights a dramatic decline in New Zealand’s native plants.

“There's been a staggering sixty percent increase in the number of critically threatened species in the last five years,” said Network President Philippa Crisp. “There are now 184 species threatened, with more than ninety of those on the brink of extinction, including garden favourites such as two species of kakabeak and the Chatham Island forget-me-not.

“Practically all indicators we use to monitor the state of New Zealand’s environment are showing a looming biodiversity crisis” said Dr Crisp. “Unfortunately, New Zealanders believe that the environment is in good condition but this could not be farther from the truth – our native plants are heading for extinction.”

Dr Crisp said that as politicians discuss mining New Zealand’s national parks and softening the Resource Management Act to speed up development, the government’s focus should turn instead towards changing legislation to protect indigenous plants. Many of the threatened species have no protection at all, as they are on private land, she said.

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“Territorial land management agencies must be given legislation, policies and guidelines to support them to more effectively protect the country's natural heritage from further decline."

The book Threatened Plants of New Zealand was authored by plant scientists from the Department of Conservation, Landcare Research and University of Canterbury and was sponsored by MWH (a private environmental and engineering company) and the Department of Conservation.

ENDS

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