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Ecosourcing seeds and plants

Ecosourcing is highly recommended when undertaking a restoration project. Some local councils will help with funding a project on the condition that the plants used are locally ecosourced. Ecosourcing consists of using plants grown from local seed for local use. By connecting the source of the plants with the destination of the plants you are preserving the local distinctness of those plants. All plants have localised adaptations. If you use locally ecosourced plants the likelihood of those plants surviving and thriving is greatly increased, which means a better result for your restoration project.

Seeds and plants can only be ecosourced from an area where specimens naturally occur. If specimens have been planted, there is no real way of knowing their provenance. In some cases finding a bush remnant can be very difficult, especially if a district’s land area has been heavily modified. Suitable places for ecosourcing seed are often on private farm land, Local Council Reserves or Department of Conservation (DOC) land. It is very important that you get permission before undertaking any ecosourcing. Your local council will be able to tell you who the owner of the land is. Any collection on DOC land will require a permit. Covenant owners can contact their local QEII National Trust field officer.

When you have permission to collect seeds from a suitable site there are some guidelines that should be followed so that your collecting is credible and sustainable. It is best to collect seeds, rather than  cuttings, because growing cuttings is effectively cloning, which is not recommended. The propagation of seed ensures that the plant grown is the product of two individuals and all of their localised traits.  It is best to use fresh seed every year and unless there are only very few of a species you are collecting from, for example only two specimens, you should collect a small amount of seed from as many specimens as possible that are located near each other. This ensures a broader range of genetic material and variation for the future. When collecting seeds, try to do so out of view from the public. This avoids overly disturbing a site through mimicked behaviour. 

For more background on ecosourcing and best practice see link below.

It is possible to purchase ecosourced plants for your project. Nature Space recommends that you contact your local council or DOC office to find out which nurseries source and supply ecosourced plants. If your local authority cannot help, please send a query via the ‘Contact Us’ link to Nature Space.

All photos Matt Ward 2009-2011

Matt Ward – Environmental Restoration Officer – Kāpiti Coast District Council