It is an exciting time to be in the native plant nursery business.
Set up to succeed
In 1986, the New Zealand Government committed to conservation by establishing the Ministry for the Environment. The Ministry then created the Resource Management Act (RMA) in 1991 and then in 2018, the government launched the Billion Tree Programme (BTP). The RMA put biodiversity officers in place at regional and council levels. The Billion Trees Programme has a tree-planting mission that so far has been 69% native tree species. Now, as part of the COVID-19 recovery programme, $35M of the $1.3B BTP fund has been re-allocated to Jobs For Nature, a plan that spells more work for native plant nurseries and ecological contractors.
Jobs for Nature
Thanks to experts in place, enacting the Jobs for Nature Programme has gone smoothly for nurseries and contractors. The three-year schedule allows contractors to do the job right by carrying out initial pest control before planting and follow up maintenance. Unlike most production industries where one can just push a button and make more of something or speed up the line, plants take time and when growing eco-sourced plants, it also takes planning. Here again, the experts making the plans for these projects know this and project schedules reflect that. At Wai-ora, we call these experts Ecological Heroes and we strive to support their efforts.
Time to Grow
Today marks the start of the autumn planting season, the nursery is ready and projects designed by these Ecological Heroes are getting underway. We have been able to support these initiatives and grow as a nursery. We recently developed another bit of land on our seven-hectare Christchurch property to cope with the increase in demand. And this growth is another milestone for our eco source nursery.
Over the next three years, the native plant nursery industry is well placed to see significant growth. In addition, Wai-ora’s Ecological Contracting department have been busy supporting the government funding applications by some of the Eco Heroes we work with. We are excited for the industry as a whole and the job creation that will follow. We have clients who have seized this moment to make a difference for our local biodiversity for generations to come, and it is our privilege to support these heroes and their work.
With the plan to repeal and replace the RMA, we will see clear environmental protections. We can predict that the Natural and Built Environment Act and the Climate Change Adaptation Acts will enhance biodiversity, ecosystem protection and revegetation. This spells measurable outcomes around pest control and revegetation projects. Wai-ora has a great team in place for pest control revegetation projects and our nursery is committed to eco sourcing. If these new acts continue on the existing path, which we believe they will, the future of the nursery industry is native plants.
One Billion Trees Programme (Last reviewed 16 November 2020). Ministry for Primary Industries. https://www.mpi.govt.nz/forestry/funding-tree-planting-research/one-billion-trees-programme/ (1/3/21)
Resource Management Act 1991 (Continuously updated). Ministry for the Environment. https://www.mfe.govt.nz/rma (1/3/21)
Resource Management Review Panel (2020) New Directions for Resource Management in New Zealand (ISBN: 978-1-98-857998-6) Retrieved from https://www.mfe.govt.nz/publications/rma/new-directions-resource-management-new-zealand