The importance of ecosourcing

Eco source 1Eco-sourcing native plants for the Whakaora Te Waihora restoration planting programme is important to Ngāi Tahu and Environment Canterbury not only from an eco-cultural values perspective, but in showing leadership in the use and planting of appropriate plant species.


Almost all of the native species being planted around Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere as part of the Whakaora Te Waihora restoration planting programme are eco-sourced – largely from the lake margin and Banks Peninsula, which Programme Leader Andy Spanton says, are excellent seed sources.


“Most of our seed is sourced from within an 50 kilometer radius of the lake,” he says, “from as far afield as Banks Peninsula and the lower Canterbury Plains. Eco-sourcing plays a big part in how we select our plants.

“The seed is collected and grown on for us by the nurseries who supply us with plants – for example Southern Woods, Wai-Ora Landscapes, Riverside Horticulture and the Department of Conservation nursery at Motukarara. They’re very passionate about what they do and their staff have extensive knowledge of plants and eco-sourcing seed.”


Eco-sourced plants are those grown from seeds collected from naturally-occurring vegetation in a locality close to where they are to be planted as a part of a restoration planting programme. It’s an important part of any restoration project and it means plants will be suited to local conditions and more likely to survive.


“By using eco-sourced native plants we keep the integrity of both the plants and the natural vegetation of the area and we’re not getting a mix of other varieties that are not naturally occurring in the area. It helps maintain the area’s unique plant characteristics and the vigor of individual species,” Andy Spanton says.


ecosource 2Many of New Zealand’s plants have adapted to local conditions, developing distinct attributes which give the species resilience against a changing environment or threats such as plant diseases. Through eco-sourcing, that resilience can be maintained and plants endemic to an area and climatic conditions are more likely to survive. This also ensures that genetic diversity is maintained throughout New Zealand.


“What we want to do is re-establish pockets of native vegetation around Te Waihora, allowing the wind, birds and water to naturally redistribute seed over a wider area. That’s already happening in some of the more established planting areas at Waikirikiri/Selwyn Delta, at Ahuriri/Greenpark and Waikekewai.

“We’re very pleased with the way those areas have become resilient and have developed their own canopies with replacement plants emerging in the undergrowth below.


“We need to note though that in some cases, it’s difficult to get entirely eco-sourced plants – lancewoods and wind grass for instance. That could be due to a lack of an identified local seed source, or the fact that the ability to source seed varies from season to season.”


If you would like to find out more about eco-sourcing you can contact the Environment Canterbury Biodiversity team for further information on the principles and processes of seed collection. Call Customer Services on 0800 324 636 or visit or follow on The Department of Conservation website is also a good source of information






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