Seedling research to help community planting

30 June 2015

A Victoria University PhD student’s research into the survival and growth of native seedlings should help conservation and community groups with future planting projects.

Wineberry/makomako - one of three native plants chosen for the study.

Wineberry/makomako - one of three native plants chosen for the study.

Biological Science student Victor Anton chose three New Zealand plants commonly used in restoration projects – wineberry, cabbage tree and lemonwood – and monitored survival and growth of 2110 individuals of these three species planted between 2008 and 2012.

His aims were to find out what contributes to plants dying, what is the most vulnerable period after planting, the differences in plant survival between forest restoration carried out by local governments or community groups, and to measure the growth rates of seedlings over time.

The main result Anton found was that more plants died if they were shorter than the surrounding grass and the probability of dying decreased as plant height increased. Keeping grass below the height of the seedlings and trees should reduce competition and result in less plants dying.

His research also showed spreading a layer of mulch helped the young seedlings survive.

Anton also says proper management during and following planting – like using good planting techniques, applying a layer of mulch and avoiding accidentally mowing plants – meant more plants survived.