At the recent SŌC AGM we heard the fascinating story of the Ōtautahi Christchurch Indigenous Ecosystem Mapping which in the 1990s gave us the native plant guides for greater Christchurch, put together by Di Lucas, Colin Meurk and other local scientists – and commissioned by a Christchurch-Ōtautahi Agenda 21 Forum project (one of SŌC’s predecessors).
This “biodiversity project” was launched in 1995 and the guides can be said to have changed the ‘nature’ of Christchurch. But it would not have happened without the great support from local leaders in community boards … and many others. Twenty-six years later we celebrated both its history and impact as well as helped Di Lucas launch its online presence.
Di talked about her work mapping the local ecosystems and guiding people who wanted to plant appropriately for their place and to nurture local plants and wildlife. We celebrated with her the success so far and the re-launch of the project in its 2021 form.
The ecosystem mapping dataset is available in an easy to explore form on the CCC website. This online map links to detailed planting guides useful for restoration projects, landscape design, and school and backyard projects.
Diana Shand says
This is not=correct if one cares about accuracy. This ECO System Mapping Project was NOT a SOC project but was initiated by the Christchurch-Otautahi Agenda 21 UNCED-Earth Summit Committee…which some years later ,with the merger with Sustainable Cities and others …all bent on mainstreaming the concept of [ecological] sustainability, changed its name to incorporate its new members.
Returning from the UNCED and Rio Earth Summit 1992 and with deep appreciation for the community effort that sent me there, I founded the Agenda 21 Forum. This was with the support of people like John and Katherine Peet, John Gould, Lois and Martin Griffiths (and the blessing of Janet Holm who had attended the first United Nations Conference on the Human Environment, 5-16 June 1972, Stockholm. That, and the Rio de Janeiro 1992 Earth Summit and UNCED (United Nations Conference on Environment and Development) were the first major conferences to link environment with human development, with the latter coining the term sustainable development).
I was there as one of two NGO members of the New Zealand Government Delegation – a young lawyer from Auckland Simon Reeves was another. With Minister Rob Storey leading the Delegation and the Maori Queen Te Arikinui Dame Te Atairangikaahu leading the Maori delegation, New Zealand was (I believe) the fifth nation to sign the Convention on Biological Diversity…(CBD) and made it an occasion which even stopped the passing American president (Bush Senior) with our waiata.
Returning to New Zealand the organisation of people that sent me to Rio I worked to get the understanding of this new unfamiliar term – “biodiversity” (the group of people soon adopted the name Christchurch Agenda 21 Society and later and currently is known as Sustainable Otautahi Christchurch – SOC). WE employed Martin Lukes to promote the programme and wonderful work visiting school and promoting biodiversity needs to be acknowledged.
This was when I approached Di Lucas (Lucas Associates) and we saw instantly the chance to use the type of ecosystem mapping Di had used in a case to make Queenstown identify “outstanding landscapes worthy of protection in their areas!! Amazing looking back…and incorporating the work of Landcare researchers like Prof Steve Wratten and Colin Meurk
So began the ecosystem mapping of Christchurch – the vision is recorded in the inside covers of the booklets. Community Boards came in with their support which was critical in spreading this around Christchurch and persuading the City Council to stock copies of the maps for each area.. People were to recognise the variety of ecosystems they lived in…and treasure them.
Thanks Diana for writing out the history of this project. It’s very appreciated. I’ve updated the post to reflect the original project initiation by the Christchurch-Ōtautahi Agenda 21 Forum. Cheers,
Diana Shand says
Thank you Ben, that’s really great and much appreciated.