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Restoration of Urban Biodiversity a big picture look at some key issues Colin D Meurk 18 th & 20 th May, 2004.

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Presentation on theme: "Restoration of Urban Biodiversity a big picture look at some key issues Colin D Meurk 18 th & 20 th May, 2004."— Presentation transcript:

1 Restoration of Urban Biodiversity a big picture look at some key issues Colin D Meurk 18 th & 20 th May, 2004

2 What is Biodiversity? Summation of global ecosystem, species, and gene information (sum of all the regional diversity) Distinct from local species richness - total number of species in an area Misconception that piling more (exotic) spp into an area increases biodiversity NZ has huge numbers of introduced spp; net increase of 58 vertebrates, but net decline of indigenous spp (-53). Global biodiversity is thus reduced by 53 - not increased by 58! NZ has c exotic plant spp, so spp richness is now c , but global biodiversity has declined through massive reduction in gene pools & functional ecosystems – not increased by !

3 Extinction is forever! % of endemic group that is: extinct, threatened or endangered 100% NZ frogs 100% tuatara 100% moaand overall … 100% kiwi 100% aptornis29% NZ breeding seabirds 100% kakapo 66% kea & kaka56% NZ breeding non-marine birds 66% NZ wrens 33% whiteheadsProtection of all of these is our duty! 100% piopio 100% wattlebirds 100% short-tailed bats Ref: Kerry-Jane Wilson 2004

4 Why Urban? Most people live in urban environments (creates both risks & resources) Cities are at environmental cross-roads Thus have diverse ecosystems & spp These lowland biota are at risk & under-protected Few citizens see our nature - in remote mountains, rainforests & offshore islands Some positive indicators in cities/towns Conservation of nature depends on both ecological & socio-cultural factors – it won’t happen if there is not the will There must be a critical ecological, visual & ideological mass of nature so that it is sustainable thru being equated with society’s sense of its place.

5 Sustainable Management & Use Sustainable Management & Use of natural resources Identification Identification with regional biodiversity & landscape Protectiveness Protectiveness towards natural values Visibility Visibility of nature Learning Learning from natural processes Enculturation Enculturation of natural values Quality of Life Quality of Life definition Familiarity Familiarity with nature Landscape & Ecological Sustainability & Integrity Feedback System

6 We have the need for a major Urban Biodiversity Restoration effort Biodiversity crisis Cultural imperatives (both Maori & Kiwi) Critical location Do we have the ecological technology?

7 What can we do? Protect the primary habitats –More urban biodiversity & habitats than we think –More expensive to restore than we think Nurse the remnants back to health – at various levels & scales –A single bush is a habitat! –Mainland islands the Rolls Royce version Halt deliberate & natural spread of weeds & pests! Restoration & Regeneration –Remember the diversity is in the small spp (<20% of native flora are large trees, shrubs & tussocks) and the myriad interactions Raise proportion of native plants in dominant locations Nurture the home gardener - Gardens, footpath cracks, walls & lawns Integrate sanctuaries, corridors, stepping stones & the matrix – and people!

8 How/Where do we do it? Get the management of remnants & the investment in planting right! Forest planting (defines the city & food value) Shrubland systems (a special NZ feature) Wetland restoration (tall stuff is easy) Coastal dune & estuarine restoration Grasslands (battling weed successions) Riparian & instream habitats (battling perceptions) New surrogate habitats (urban mimics of nature) Facilitate spatial dynamics (the landscape level) Celebrate & redirect the home gardener’s energy & innovation (cf bird breeders)

9 Forests & Shrublands innovative ways of making urban forests pay G Hall LINKNZ ; Douglas fir - harvest 20% at yr 20, natives introduced at yr 20, then 20% stems > 30 cm harvested, leaving 12 stems/ha

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13 Reports of bellbirds by the public in Christchurch between Bellbird observation maps The following maps display bellbird sightings that members of the public have sent in to this website. The observation website has been operational since September 2002, but there are also some records from earlier observations (starting November 2001). These maps include observations up to January Please continue to send in your native bird sightings through our observation form, and we will update these maps periodically. These maps were prepared by the Research & Policy Development Unit of Christchurch City Council. observation form These maps are also available at higher resolution as pdf documents. These downloads include additional maps, including other native bird species. Download higher resolution versions of the Canterbury maps 1MB Download higher resolution versions of the Christchurch maps 1.57MB Download higher resolution versions of the Canterbury maps Download higher resolution versions of the Christchurch maps Bellbird Sightings in Christchurch by Members of the Public, November January 2004

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15 Wetlands & Riparian Habitats

16 Key Message: Plant at stream edges, tall & dense (during low water/summer time) – but provide windows for access & views

17 Coastal Estuaries

18 Good dune, bad dune

19 Grasslands are tricky in a forest climate!

20 Combat exotic grasses with differential grazing …

21 Handweeding & close inspection – or moaing

22 Give in to the wood climate

23 Stressing with coarse soil or managed drought

24 Urban Surrogates of Threatened Nature

25 Lawns are surrogate interdune turfs

26 Creative Native Gardens

27 Towards landscape integrity & legibility social cohesion & a maturing culture

28 Power of plants & their signals

29 Entrances, Portals & Avenues are crucial

30 It took over a millennium in Europe to fit in with the land - be patient!

31 We need to grow From this To this

32 Comfortable, mature & secure in our history, work, art & play

33 Take home messages Biodiversity a global concept – a crisis in NZ Urban is the focus – identity, cultural imperative Need critical mass of nature – visually, culturally, & ideologically Protect primary habitats – the benchmarks Halt deliberate & natural spread of pests Restore & regenerate (80% plants-small stuff) Urban woodland defines the city & food value Need visual dominance of native spp. Optimum spatial configuration of forest patches It’s for the birds

34 For messages Safety – need some ecologists to help with the solutions Plant stream edges dense + windows Estuaries – buffers, excavation & regen. Dunes losing their natural character Grasses fun but tricky in forest climates - …grazing, weeding, stressing, go to shrubs Role of home gardener – creative natives Urban surrogates of threatened habitats/spp Maturing the culture & the landscape - legibility

35 References Dune Vegetation Network (CDVN website ) (includes plant selection & propagation tools, soil key, streamside planting guides)www.bush.org.nz/planterguide Establishing shelter in Canterbury with Nature Conservation in mind (ECan & Isaac Centre for Nature Conservation) Protecting & Restoring our natural heritage – a practical guide (Davis & Meurk for DoC 2001) QEII handbook (in press) The Native Garden (Gabites & Lucas 1998) Tane’s Tree Trust


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