Simmons tops plant awards

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A national award for outstanding plant conservation has gone to tireless Tamahere conservationist Jan Simmons.

Jan Simmons (right) receives the award from NZPCN president Sarah Beadel
Jan Simmons (right) receives the award from NZPCN president Sarah Beadel

Simmons, the main driver of the Tamahere Community Plant Nursery, received the award this month from the New Zealand Plant Conservation Network for an individual involved in plant conservation.

The network noted that Simmons works full-time as a Conservation Department Community Relations Officer in Hamilton but also works on a voluntary basis to promote the planting of native plant species around Hamilton and beyond.

The main focus of the network, established in 2003, is the nationally threatened plants and plant communities that require conservation management for their continued survival.

Simmons has been the convenor of Eco-sourced Waikato since its inception in 2000 and is a founding member of the Waikato Biodiversity Forum, the network noted.

“In 2005, she helped establish the Tamahere Community Nursery to provide eco-sourced plants for the Hamilton gullies restoration initiative. This concept has now expanded to the growing of thousands of specialist enrichment plants for Waiwhakareke Natural Heritage Park project near Hamilton Zoo.

“Other voluntary biodiversity projects Jan is involved with include weed clearance in Whewells Bush (a Department of Conservation reserve at Matangi); providing plants and labour for restoration of a wetland at Pirongia and for bush enhancement in a QEII covenant on a Waitomo farm, and supplying plants and volunteers for enhancement of the National Wetland Centre based at Lake Serpentine.

“In 2013, using a grant from the Waikato River Clean Up Fund, Jan will lead a group of volunteers to collect seeds of the more difficult to locate and grow-on species to be reared at the Tamahere Nursery. Jan is passionate about all aspects of growing native plants for restoration projects, and she freely shares her knowledge and enthusiasm with volunteers working at the nursery.”

Other awards went to community and school projects and conservationists young and old.

The New Zealand Plant Conservation Network was established in 2003 with the vision that “no indigenous species of plant will become extinct nor be placed at risk of extinction as a result of human action or indifference, and that the rich, diverse and unique plant life of New Zealand will be recognised, cherished and restored”.

Network members collaborate to protect and restore New Zealand’s indigenous plant life and their natural habitats and associated species. This is achieved through dissemination of information about indigenous plant species and communities, coordination of ex-situ management of threatened plants, plant conservation training programmes and conservation activities to protect threatened plants and communities.

Its website provides information about native plants and their conservation in New Zealand.

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