Institute of Ecosystem Studies

2009 BES Annual Meeting Presentation and Poster Abstracts

Bringing indigenous biodiversity back into New Zealand cities
Clarkson, Bruce

Abstract: Bringing indigenous biodiversity back into New Zealand cities. Bruce Clarkson Centre for Biodiversity and Ecology Research University of Waikato PB 3105 Hamilton 3240 New Zealand New Zealandís 20 largest urban centres vary considerably in terms of their extant indigenous biodiversity resource in the built up matrix (<1% to 9%) and approach to protecting and enhancing it. To achieve a universal target of 10% ecosystems dominated by indigenous species in the built up matrix will require a range of approaches from restoration of existing remnants to reconstruction of ecosystems. Ecological barriers to overcome include altered soil conditions and processes, rapidly shifting and often warmer microclimates, and novel species assemblages. Despite these limitations, there are unique opportunities to conserve indigenous plants and animals not possible in extensive wildland tracts. For example, grazing by farm animals can be completely controlled and avian predators such as weasels and stoats are less abundant in city environments. And the volunteer worker is nowhere more abundant and capable of being mobilised. Perhaps the most significant challenge to achieving the 10% target, however, is to coordinate action between management agencies so that regional or catchment scale ecosystem processes and function are restored. Further, a convergence of many skills including engineering, landscape architecture, aboriculture, horticulture and ecology is needed to undertake successful restoration in city environments. Examples will drawn from several North Island cities to illustrate how coordination, convergence and integration can assist in bringing indigenous nature back into the city and reconnecting urban dwellers with their natural heritage.