Kauriland Summit 2021
Theme 7: Conservation and Restoration
Q&A / Discussion
Where do you see the Conservation and Restoration theme going, in terms of your mentioned connections in the north, myrtle rust is now found in Te Wai Pounamu (the South Island), how do we respond to this threat in such a widespread area?
We are setting up templates for potential processes for protection, which is the best we can hope for now. Myrtle rust has confounded our expectations by turning up in Christchurch which had been regarded as being climatically safe.
We already need to rethink the whāngai process, and what is acceptable is a matter for discussion. The response is being ramped up while we learn what is happening with the spread of myrtle rust around Aotearoa.
The reason we focused on a species as rare as rātā moehau, was in part so it could be kaupapa Māori led, but also because it was a species in need of urgent triage. However, ramarama may be moving rapidly into that zone as well.
Seed conservation is very important. It has been noted that there is a lack of knowledge around seed curation and seed biology. How do we preserve these taonga and bridge that knowledge gap?
One thing we have learnt from our experience with myrtle rust is don’t wait a decade, you don’t have time. If we could turn back time we would be able to invest in many things that we needed to know. But we need to be mindful of the pathogens waiting in the wings. It is just a matter of time before Ōhi’a dieback arrives in New Zealand, and its effect on Metrosideros spp. like pōhutukawa will be devastating compared to myrtle rust.
Preparing Aotearoa for future biosecurity incursions it is important to have research on our taonga before these incursions happen. This is where linking biosecurity mahi across the wider biological heritage challenge projects is important.
Peter mentioned myrtle rust cryogenic etc. so this question is in line with that statement! Talking about seed conservation for our taonga, I wish to find out the operational way of keeping infected trees/native plants alive to be able to produce enough seeds?
Speaking of cyrogenics, we need to bear in mind that if there is no plant material there is nothing (i.e. seed or other tissues for embryogenesis etc) to grow under tissue culture methods. So do we just watch our iconic plants die? Certainly no! Do we just do monitoring counting infected plants? Certainly not enough! When are we revisiting operational tools to control MR. To date since incursion, there is not operational method of controlling the pathogen for short term whiles looking forward to long term methods? Something for us all to think about…
This is truly triage territory for us with myrtle rust. In areas with infected ramarama we don’t know whether the efficacy of any treatment against myrtle rust might boost flowering and fruiting. If it does, are the pollinator communities affected by the application of the treatment? These are questions we can’t answer. It does suggest that if there are possibilities of safe zones to apply the whāngai process, that this theme is advocating for, we should do so rapidly while we’ve still got time. But also prepare ourselves for the fact that even our best guesses at climate forecast change may confound us!
In order to preserve you’ve got to have material to do so. What we should be looking for is material that is uninfected currently, whilst we have the time. We should send out people to locate and identify these threatened species. We have been doing quite a lot of that over the last summer, collecting seed and looking at methods for seed preservation. But also seeing, if after a short period of storage, if they will germinate. Conservation and Restoration are linked to the Oranga theme in this space through work on the sovereignty of seed, flowers and other materials, and how to safeguard it.
While Conservation and Restoration are working on the technical aspects of how we can preserve and what can be preserved, Oranga is thinking about it from a sovereignty perspective and who has ownership and can access the material. One of Oranga’s concerns is the current policies and regulations under which we store and under which we conserve, which means that the depositor has the rights. So part of the conversation is ‘how do we have, multiple depositors’ to ensure that everyone’s rights are covered around taonga species. We hope to share this mahi with everyone very soon.