Positive Changes to Biodiversity

2 April 2012

Throughout Wellington, the changes are visible. Native bush thrives on hillsides where weeds used to grow. Birds we haven't seen in a long time are coming back.

Tui are flourishing in Wellington

Tui are flourishing in Wellington

Endangered native plants are planted on traffic islands and sand dunes are being restored on our wild south coast.

The Council's Natural Environment Portfolio Leader, Councillor Helene Ritchie, says a wide range of Wellington residents, organisations and groups are playing an important part in restoring the city's biological diversity.

"We have lost 95 percent of our lowland forest, most of our wetlands and dunes, and three quarters of our bird species are threatened. But working with volunteers and other councils and agencies, we are gaining ground in the battle to reverse the loss of Wellington's biodiversity."

The most obvious success story is our growing native bird populations. Tui are flourishing - bellbird, whitehead, kakariki, tomtit and kaka numbers are increasing and we're now seeing kereru nesting in our reserves.

"Behind these changes are planting and pest management programmes that are creating healthier forest with fewer pests where birds can prosper," says Cr Ritchie.

Our Berhampore Nursery grows and supplies almost 100,000 eco-sourced native plants every year for planting by staff, community volunteer groups, schools and residents. We also help groups to grow their own eco-sourced plants. These are native plants from local seed that have uniquely adapted to survive well in local conditions. They are being used to help make a variety of habitats - coastal areas, streams and forests - more like they once were.

Remaining areas of original forest and the work being done at Zealandia and Otari-Wilton's Bush are important too. A future governance structure for Zealandia, the zoo, Otari-Wilton's Bush and the Botanic Garden will be considered by the Council at a meeting tonight, with consultation on this planned as part of the Long-Term Plan. One option being looked at is the creation of a new Council-controlled organisation called ECO-City.

Otari has around half of New Zealand's native plant species in its forest and plant collections, and focuses on native plant conservation. But it is also the stronghold of our local kereru population, and it supports many other species. Together with Greater Wellington Regional Council, we've been targeting pests such as possums and old man's beard for a long time and some areas like Miramar Peninsula are thought to be possum-free. The assault on pests and weeds has become increasingly targeted. Weed and animal control are now being combined with planting activities at more than 30 key spots.

Volunteers also make a huge contribution. We're lucky to have 67 environmental restoration groups working with Council staff on pest and weed control and on revegetation programmes throughout the city.

The Council also has an important role working with other environmental agencies and the wider community to educate people on how they can make a difference in their own backyards.

By removing certain weeds and planting the right native plants, we can all support our native birds. If you would like to find out more about our restorative efforts, how you can help in your own garden or become involved in volunteer work, phone us on (04) 499 4444 or visit:

Environment

Environment - Biodiversity