Increasing plant populations through propagation is one way to help threatened species. Last week, Wellington City Council biodiversity staff collected cuttings and seed from several plant populations in the Te Kopahou area on the coast south of Wellington. I tagged along.
The targeted species
Spectacular, steep habitat
Wellington’s south coast is a spectacular landscape, and more enjoyable on a good day.
Why propagate these plants?
If the propagation is successful, the new plants will be used to supplement existing populations and create ‘insurance’ populations.
If you’re wondering why bother, check out the blog post Do we need New Zealand’s indigenous species?
But I’ll also add that the evolutionary legacy and ‘potential’ of a species is generally distributed across its different populations. That gives purpose to conserving regional representatives of even species that are not threatened nationally.
For an example of genetic variation in a New Zealand plant species, see the blog post DNA fingerprinting fierce lancewood.