PASSION FOR NATIVE PLANTS EARNS SOUTHLAND COUPLE NATIONAL GREEN AWARD

  • Nick Smith
Conservation

Invercargill couple Brian and Chris Rance have been awarded the 1999 Loder Cup, Conservation Minister Dr Nick Smith announced today.

"The Loder Cup, one of New Zealand's leading conservation awards, honours people and organisations who have made an outstanding contribution to the conservation of New Zealand's native plants. The award goes this year to Brian and Chris Rance, for their outstanding work in setting up a threatened plant garden and community nursery on their 10-acre property at Otatara."

"The Rances are strong conservationists with a passion for New Zealand's native flora and fauna. They have helped save some of Southland's rarest plants by taking seeds and cuttings from isolated plants surviving on private land and growing them in their "Noah's Ark" garden at Otatara. Some of the plants "rescued" by the Rances have been planted back into the wild to boost wild populations, while others are being cultivated as a back-up for species under threat in the wild."

"The Rances aim to teach visitors to the garden how to identify some of New Zealand's rarest plants, and to understand the reasons for their decline. For example, the endangered tree daisy Olearia hectorii, Southland's rarest plant, is now mostly gone from the wild as its seeds cannot germinate through the grass which now often surrounds the last few surviving wild plants."

Besides an extensive collection of local plants, the Rances' collection contains plants from New Zealand's Subantarctic and Chatham Islands, collected under special permit from the Department of Conservation, and from other parts of the country. Most are unique to New Zealand and found nowhere else in the world. The Rances believe that New Zealand, along with other nations, has a responsibility under the International Convention on Biodiversity to ensure that no more species become extinct.

"The vision and hard work of Brian and Chris Rance is an inspiration for people throughout New Zealand and shows what can be achieved".

Recipients of the award in recent years have included the Auckland-based Supporters of Tiritiri Matangi, Mrs Isabel Morgan of Napier, the Native Forests Restoration Trust, Christchurch botanist Dr David Given and Dunedin botanist, Dr Peter Johnson.