There are many thousands of species of cultivated plants in New Zealand but we don’t have a comprehensive list of everything that’s here. The MPI Plants Biosecurity Index (PBI) is incomplete and new species can’t be added without approval from the Environmental Protection Authority, which can cost thousands of dollars. This is a problem for our commercial nursery sector and creates barriers to importing new plant selections, germplasm and breeding stock, which impacts our country's prosperity.
A project led by the Royal NZ Institute of Horticulture (RNZIH) aims to add numerous exotic species names to two 'official' databases - the New Zealand Plant Names Database (Ngā Tipu o Aotearoa) and the New Zealand Organisms Register (NZOR).
The project also aims to have presence in New Zealand confirmed with the Environmental Protection Authority for 600-800 plants, where there is good evidence they were here prior to 29 July 1998. The project is led by Murray Dawson of the RNZIH and runs for three years. There are many collaborators including NZPPI, Botanic Gardens Australia and New Zealand, International Dendrological Society – NZ Branch, International Plant Propagators’ Society – NZ Region, Massey University, NZ Rhododendron Project Group, NZ Tree Crops Association, and the Orchid Council of NZ Inc.
The project is funded by the Ministry for Primary Industries’ Sustainable Food & Fibre Futures fund, with co-funding provided by the RNZIH, Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research, and horticultural organisations.
NZPPI’s Biosecurity & Technical Manager, Kathryn Hurr, is on the Governance Group. If you have evidence that a plant was in New Zealand before 1998, and want to get it added through this project, please get in touch with her at Kathryn@nzppi.co.nz