Kāpiti seed bank bears fruit

Kena Kena School children have planted the first native plants grown from seed collected for a Kāpiti Coast District Council seed bank project.

Among the 800 plants the children planted at Waikanae Estuary were Hebes given to the Waikanae Estuary Care Group by Council Environmental Restoration Officer Matt Ward.

Five classes from Kenakena School under the supervision of Greater Wellington Regional Council and the Waikanae Estuary Care Group planted almost 800 plants most of which were grown in the schools nursery.

The Hebes grew from seed Matt collected for the Council’s seed bank, which aims to increase the supply of locally sourced native plants for use in restoration and revegetation projects.

“These plants are from the first seeds I collected for the project early last August almost exactly a year to the day,” said Matt. “Since then I’ve collected and distributed more than 180,000 seeds.”

The three-year seed bank project is the brainchild of the Council’s Biodiversity Advisor Rob Cross, who successfully applied for an $86,000 grant from the Ministry for the Environment’s Sustainable Development Fund.

Eco-sourcing – using plants grown from seed collected from naturally occurring plants native to an area is best practice for restoration and revegetation projects, and the official policy of Government agencies.

Rob said this was to preserve the unique genetic identity of local plant populations, and because local plants were better adapted to local conditions.

“Unfortunately there’s a chronic shortage of properly eco-sourced plants because eco-sourced seed is not widely available,” said Rob. “The seed bank project helps solve this problem by making eco-sourced seed available free to community groups and nurseries supplying plants for restoration and revegetation in the District.”

By the end of the project far more eco-sourced plants grown from a wider range of species would be available.

“Growers have responded enthusiastically by taking almost everything Matt has collected, and there should be thousands more plants available next year,” Rob Cross said.

“This will help preserve the unique character of local native plants a vital part of our natural heritage.”