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Species discovery means biodiversity increase

Luisa Osborne
kaikoura plants heath melville
Unique plant species have been discovered on Mt Fyffe farm in Kaikoura.  Heath Melville (Supplied)

The discovery of a unique species in Kaikoura is hoped to inform views of what a wetland can look like locally and around the country.

Environment Canterbury (ECan) Land Management and Biodiversity Advisor Heath Melville said the discovery of unique plant species meant the wetland area at Mt Fyffe farm would be better protected from pests. This would allow plants to flourish and hopefully spread throughout the area.

"With over 90 percent of New Zealand's wetlands lost due to human impact it's now more important than ever that we protect what's left," Melville said.

The species astelia grandis and machaerina rubiginosa were discovered on Mt Fyffe farm in Kaikoura after recent ECan mapping of the area. They are not present anywhere else in the Kaikoura district.

The species include harakeke and purei (sedges), and swamp astelia, which are uncommon on New Zealand's east coast.

Melville said this presented a unique opportunity to see what wetlands could look like, as well as providing an opportunity to breed the unique plants in other locations through the country. 

Landowner Phil Richardson, on whose farm the species were found, said in a statement it was a "no-brainer to protect it really".

The Richardson family, who own and manage Mt Fyffe farm, were granted $18,000 from ECan's Immediate Steps Biodiversity funding, on the recommendation of the Kaikoura Water Zone committee, which oversees water projects in the area on behalf of ECan. 

The funding was used to fence 1.9 hectares of land on the farm.