Saving endangered plants

New Zealand has 2,363 species of indigenous plants.  One in 13 of these native plants is now threatened with extinction.

According to the NZ Plant Conservation Network, 1944 (82%) of New Zealand’s 2,363 species are endemic to New Zealand. This high degree of endemism is one of the reasons New Zealand has been identified by Conservation International as being a “Centre of Plant Diversity” and world diversity hotspot. Unfortunately a high level of endemism means that many of our plants are vulnerable to extinction.

Many of New Zealand’s threatened plants have become at risk of extinction in the wild due to a combination of the following:

  • Habitat loss due to destruction and/or degradation.
  • Browsing and grazing by introduced animals.
  • Encroachment of invasive weeds.

The Trees for Survival programme is an opportunity to help restore endangered native plants . For example students from Moturoa School in Taranaki have grown and planted Scandia rosifolia at Maitahi boosting the population of the threatened plant at this reserve, by about 100.

There was a time when there was just one Scandia plant left in this reserve, growing on a rocky outcrop above the beach. Seed was collected and, under guidance and in association with the Dept of Conservation, the students have been growing and planting these and other Taranaki plants around the region as part of their school’s Trees for Survival programme.