The Department of Conservation and Botanic Gardens in New Zealand are joining forces to protect endangered native plant species from diseases such as myrtle rust.
Conservation Minister Maggie Barry has signed a Memorandum of Understanding today with Botanic Gardens Australia and New Zealand Incorporated (BGANZ) at the Threatened Species Summit at Te Papa.
“We’ve been working on a MOU with botanic gardens for the past two years and with the unwelcome arrival of myrtle rust in New Zealand we’ve brought it forward because it’s now more important than ever for DOC to join forces with these organisations,” Ms Barry says.
“This may include seed banking susceptible species, identifying resistant plants and researching control measures.”
“This new partnership between my Department and the eight New Zealand members of BGANZ provides a much-needed sharing of plant expertise and important resources, as well as national coordination on native plant conservation issues.”
“The relationship with the 61 Australian members is particularly important because they’ve been dealing with myrtle rust for the past seven years. The mutual benefits of our working together will extend the capacity for research, advocacy, training and community engagement in this vital work.”
Major botanic gardens at Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin and other public gardens at Taranaki, Gisborne and Hamilton will work in cooperation with DOC.
“These botanic gardens provide plant expertise and unparalleled resources and can offer nursery facilities, seed banks and land for planting seed orchards. Internationally, botanic gardens are already playing similar roles in countries like North America, China, the Netherlands and Peru.”
“With more than a million visitors each year at both the Wellington and Auckland botanic gardens they have a major role to play in educating people about diseases like myrtle rust,” Ms Barry says.
BGANZ executive member and Auckland Botanic Gardens Manager Jack Hobbs says botanic gardens in New Zealand have collaborated on various threatened native plant projects over many years.
“We will now be able to operate more strategically and therefore achieve even better outcomes for species protection and plant biodiversity,” Mr Hobbs says.
“We are keen to be involved in researching how myrtle rust affects different species and individual plants within those species with a view to finding resistant strains. We’d make our propagation skills available where required.”
“Botanic gardens attract large numbers of visitors and have a unique opportunity to increase awareness of the plight of all our threatened plants through education programmes, interpretation and display gardens.”
Ms Barry says the MOU also supports the relevant aspirations and role of Iwi as guardians of New Zealand’s natural resources.