Roadsides key to District’s biodiversity

21/11/2014 12:00 a.m.

Native vegetation remnants on Ashburton District roadsides often provide the only remaining example of indigenous vegetation in the district.

In a recent report commissioned by Ashburton District Council and Ashburton Community Conservation Trust, ecologist Mike Harding highlighted the importance of vegetation on our roadsides.

"These remnants have significant biodiversity value in the Ashburton District. The district's historical vegetation clearance and ongoing changes in land use mean that much of our native vegetation has already been lost," says Mr Harding.

The Plains Drylands Vegetation Survey Report surveyed 642 sites on public roadsides in the Ashburton District east of the Scenic Highway.  Of the 642 sites, 108 have been deemed significant due to the vegetation present and their preservation is a key action in the Ashburton District Biodiversity Action Plan.

Mr Harding and other ecologists completed the work through two surveys during the 2011/2012 and 2013/2014 summer months. "This is to maximise the opportunity to identify cryptic plants, especially indigenous grasses, which are often hard to identify as they look so similar," says Mr Harding.

80 indigenous plant species were recorded at the surveyed sites. The most common species recorded was the cabbage tree, at 176 sites.

The report's recommendations are being progressed and additional surveys are being considered.

Click here to read the report and a new map of the significant sites

Page reviewed: 21 Nov 2014 9:24am