19th JULY 2001
Office of the
PARLIAMENTARY COMMISSIONER FOR THE ENVIRONMENT
Te Kaitiaki Taiao a Te Whare Päremata
Native Plants – Can They Contribute More?
“Why limit native plants to parks, reserves and traffic islands?” asks the Parliamentary Commissioner for the
Environment, Dr Morgan Williams. “Native plants can enrich our farms and forests, improving ecological health and long
A discussion paper released today, ‘Weaving resilience into our working lands: future roles for native plants on private
land’, looks at New Zealander’s opinions on the place and roles that native plants could and should have outside of
We could use native trees such as lemonwood and totara rather than introduced species such as Macrocarpa and pine for
shelterbelts on farms. Why is it normal practice to use exotic species such as poplars and willows to prevent soil
erosion and improve water quality? We know native tree and shrub species can in many cases also do these jobs, and at
the same time provide habitats for native birds and insects.
Dr Williams points out that it is somewhat ironic that New Zealand invests little in researching the qualities and
attributes of our unique natural capital while spending tens of millions of dollars on exotic species, such as Pinus
radiata, and millions on the quest for new species via genetic engineering.
The paper makes the point that native plants can play an important role in the long-term viability of our land use
management practices, the improvement of our ecological resilience and indigenous biodiversity outside parks and
The report identifies a number of barriers to the expansion of native plants on private land. As a discussion paper it
is intended to stimulate thinking and debate beyond the current focus on whether or not native trees on private land
should be harvested for timber.
The Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment invites comment on the paper by 31 October 2001. Further work may be
undertaken as a result of these responses.
For more information contact: The Office of the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment on (04) 471 1669 or visit
our web site http://www.pce.govt.nz