Living heritage plant guide

The Living Heritage Plant Guide for Nelson was published August 2003 by the Department of Conservation and Nelson City Council describing eight different lowland ecosystems in the Nelson City area. It provides advice on planting, and lists of native species appropriate for each ecosystem.

The guide is a tool for all of us to use when we make our planting choices in our gardens and larger areas. Both Nelson City Council and Department of Conservation will be using it in their roles as landowners and conservation advocates. The information contained in this guide needs to be used alongside access to locally sourced plants, and control of weeds and other pests. Then Nelson will be able to express pride in its own character through its vegetation and its animals.

If we can do that, we will be able to identify more closely with our natural heritage and our environment will flourish

Download the guide:
The Living Heritage guide is available by download (821KB PDF)

Nelson's plant heritage

There is very little lowland and coastal vegetation remaining in Nelson. The small remnants that are left are generally isolated from each other by pasture, exotic forests, urban areas and roads. It is only in the colder uplands of the Bryant Range behind Nelson that larger areas of native vegetation are still found. But most of the species and habitats of the warmer lower altitudes cannot survive in these uplands.

The loss and fragmentation of the lowlands – illustrated in Appendix 1 – has resulted in habitats that are too small to function healthily and maintain their integrity and viability. Animal and plant populations are often too small for long-term survival – many native species have already become extinct in Nelson.

By linking and expanding the remaining natural areas and by creating new ones, we can provide suitable habitat for the re-establishment of our lost fauna and flora, as well as improve the chances of survival of what remains of Nelson’s own natural ecosystems and their native inhabitants.

The purpose of this guide is to encourage gardeners, owners of larger properties, community groups, iwi, schools, landscape professionals and nurseries to help restore the native vegetation that is unique to Nelson. This guide concentrates on the Nelson lowland, coastal and wetland ecosystems – those most in need of restoration.

‘New Zealand’s most low lying country, estuaries and tidal inlets, has become its most altered ... it is our destiny as a country to continually revisit the past. And keep alive a sense of native plants, soils, climatic cycles and life forces as necessary ingredients of how we actually live.’ — Geoff Park

Area covered by the guide

The area mapped by this guide only covers land for which Nelson City Council is responsible. This extends from Champion Road northwards to Cape Soucis and inland to the lower slopes of the Bryant Range in Mount Richmond Forest Park. This is the area shown on the maps. The plant lists do not include any of the mineral belt or upland plants of the Bryant Range.

Please note that all woody plants naturally occurring in Nelson have been listed, but the only ferns and non-woody plants (grasses, rushes, sedges and herbs) listed are those that are suitable for restoration planting.


What is eco-sourcing and why is it important?

Eco-sourcing means that the native plants grown and planted in an area, are grown from seeds that naturally occur in that area. This helps to preserve the ecological distinctiveness of a region.

Kanuka, as an example, was once thought of as one species and planted throughout the country however it has recently been found that there are at least 8 different species of kanuka and originally these were distributed throughout the country so that they never grew together. Each species has their own unique appearance and growing characteristics.  It is possible that these species are now quite mixed up, and the genetic cross over of the species, may have led to hybridisation and the loss of species.

In the Nelson region, there are number of endemic species (species that originally grew only here and no-where else on the planet) and some very unique eco systems. Preserving our unique species means that we encourage the use of eco-sourced plants wherever possible.

Eco-sourcing is used in restoration projects because locally sourced plants are more likely to survive than plants from other regions, they are adapted to the conditions, and better represent the uniqueness of an area.

Ecosourcing: Using native plants grown from locally grown seeds. Eco-sourced plants help to preserve the ecological distinctiveness of an area, and ecosourced plants fare better and are adapted to survive in the local conditions.

The guide below contains information about the key principles and ideas around eco-sourcing. Although designed for Nelson City the principles are applicable to anywhere.

Download the Eco-sourcing Guidelines for Nelson City (37KB PDF)

There are nurseries in the Nelson region which focus on eco-sourcing for restoration projects. Three nurseries - Mainly Natives Plant Nursery Ltd., Nelmac Ltd, and Titoki Nursery Ltd. hold concessions to collect seed from reserves and conservation land for the purposes of supplying eco-sourced plant material.

Bush Vitality Assessment

The Bush Vitality Assessment Tool (68KB PDF) is essential to people dedicated to sustainable land management and ready to revitalise native bush to maintain its unique biodiversity.