Andrew Spanton, Selwyn District Council biodiversity coordinator

Protecting Selwyn’s biodiversity

by Ann van Engelen

Selwyn’s biodiversity includes native plants growing around lowland streams, wetlands on the margin of Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere, pockets of bush in the foothills and large mosaics of vegetation in the high country.

The council’s biodiversity programmes are guided and empowered by legislation and policies as well as the Selwyn District Plan, which is currently being reviewed. As part of this review, a Biodiversity Working Group has been established, made up of key stakeholders and landowners with an active interest in the protection of ecosystems and indigenous biodiversity.

“The Canterbury Plains now contains less than .05 per cent of original native plant species as a result of human colonisation,” says council biodiversity coordinator Andrew Spanton.

“We need to value, protect and manage our ecological legacy; otherwise it will be lost. Our priority is the protection of existing biodiversity — particularly native plants. Indigenous biodiversity is generally considered more important than planted biodiversity as it contains the original assemblage of plants, insects and soil biota.”

Mr Spanton works with landowners, community groups, local and central government agencies and other stakeholders to protect and restore indigenous biodiversity. A major part of his role is to run the council’s Significant Natural Area programme. The programme assists landowners with funding and advice and supports the continued identification and protection of on-farm biodiversity.

“I also help landowners with native plant restoration sites across the district. It has been great to see so many restoration sites developed during the last decade and it is good to support our community in this important work.”

The council’s Selwyn Natural Environment Fund supports this work. For more information go to and search natural environment fund. Applications for the contestable fund close on the last Friday in May each year.