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Last modified: 29 Jul 2020 10:43am

Biodiversity is the variety of all life forms – plants, animals, micro-organisms, the genes they contain, and the ecosystems on land or in water where they live.

Selwyn’s biodiversity includes native plants growing around lowland streams, wetlands on the margin of Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere, pockets of bush in the foothills and large mosaics of vegetation in the high country.

Council Biodiversity Coordinator Andrew Spanton says the Canterbury Plains now contains less than .05% of original native plant species as a result of human colonisation.

“We need to value, protect and manage our ecological legacy, otherwise it will be lost.”

Collaborating to improve biodiversity

The Council’s biodiversity programmes are guided and empowered by legislation and policies as well as the Selwyn District Plan which is currently being reviewed.

As part of this review, a Biodiversity Working Group has been established, made up of key stakeholders and landowners with an active interest in the protection of ecosystems and indigenous biodiversity.

“Our priority is the protection of existing biodiversity – particularly native plants. Indigenous biodiversity is generally considered more important than planted biodiversity as it contains the original assemblage of plants, insects and soil biota.”

Mr Spanton works with landowners, community groups, local and central government agencies and other stakeholders to protect and restore indigenous biodiversity. A major part of his role is to run the Council’s Significant Natural Area (SNA) programme.

“This is where I work with landowners and managers to carry out ecological assessments to determine the significance of native plant areas and protect and manage them.”

The SNA programme assists landowners with funding and advice and supports the continued identification and protection of on-farm biodiversity.

“I also help landowners with native plant restoration sites across the district. It’s been great to see so many restoration sites developed over the last decade and it’s good to support our community in this important work.”

The Council’s Selwyn Natural Environment Fund supports this work. Applications for the contestable fund close on the last Friday in May each year.

Case study: Tārerekautuku Yarrs Lagoon Reserve

Tārerekautuku Yarrs Lagoon: is one of the largest freshwater wetland habitats (76.89ha reserve) remaining in the low plains of Selwyn.
Location: near Lincoln in the Ararira/LII River sub-catchment of Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere, between Goodericks Road and Yarrs Road.
Ecology: the lagoon supports important hydrological and ecological functions within the catchment. Numerous waterways and springs are present. The reserve contains native swamp, forest and scrub vegetation that are now rare on the plains.
Programme: the Council has formed a landcare group and is working with Taumutu Rūnanga, adjoining landowners, the Department of Conservation, Living Water programme, Environment Canterbury, Lincoln University and the community to create a Reserve Management Plan. This will help to inform and guide the future management of the lagoon.
Public consultation: the draft Reserve Management Plan will be consulted on in late autumn. Find out more information about Tārerekautuku Yarrs Lagoon.

Find out more information about the Selwyn Natural Environment Fund.