Strategies for Urban Ecological Restoration

The Department of Conservation defines ecological restoration as “the process of re-establishing a self-sustaining habitat or ecosystem similar to what is likely to have existed prior to human contact, and the reintroduction of native fauna and flora and the eradication or control of pests.”
Ecological restoration usually involves a variety of projects such as 

● reforestation and revegetation using indigenous, native species of plants, trees and bushes
● removal of weeds and other non-native species
● habitat and range improvements

Ecological restoration is often implemented in rural communities where it’s possible to restore large areas and the benefits of ecological restoration are immediately visible. However, it’s seldom implemented in urban areas due to space and logistical constraints. There’s also the issue of how viable restoration efforts would be in an urban setting with factors like human activity and climate change come into play.

But ecological restoration is exactly what urban areas need. Eco-cities that co-exist with the natural ecosystem tend to be healthier and more sustainable. It is a perfect system for urban areas because it:

1. consumes fewer resources, 
2. produces less waste, 
3. is powered by sustainable resources, 
4. mitigates the impact of climate change and
5. provides a level of sufficiency that protects urban dwellers from catastrophic events.

Urban ecological restoration is challenging but not impossible. The goal with urban ecological restoration is to design a city that caters to sustainable population and ecological growth. It’s not just about turning a city greener. It’s about making a city and all its residents healthier, allowing both native plants and city dwellers to thrive even in an urban environment. 

In Auckland, for example, part of the challenge of making their city among the greenest in the world is the increasing number of inhabitants in the area, enabling Chief Sustainability Officer John Mauro to quip recently, “If the city is going to be a desirable place to live, we need to not only have housing that’s affordable and easy transport connections, we need to have green space.” It is only then that we consider human activity with ecological restoration that development will take place. 

Urban ecological restoration doesn’t have to be done in one massive step. It can be done incrementally in a number of ways: 

Roads - Instead of emphasizing high volume roads with equally high speed arterials, they can be toned down, converting into a two-way road but widening certain footpaths. They can be converted into a streetscape along parks and cafes, encouraging more public transport and pedestrian traffic.

Residential areas - Subdivisions with cabbage trees and other native plants as vegetation. A barren piece of land in the middle of the subdivision can be used as recreation area like a mini park or urban garden with trees planted along the road for some shade. Condominium units can provide spaces for window gardens and rooftop mini-forests. Rooftops and roof decks can be used as small scale solar or wind farms to supplement the city’s energy supply.

Parks - Small wetlands inside parks can be developed and restored into fishing or ornamental ponds. Mini gardens, native plant nurseries, and habitats for wild animals as well as observatories are installed. 

Office buildings - For new buildings, they should conform with LEED standards. For older buildings, mini gardens can be built just outside the lobby and along walkways. For all building, provisions for sustainable energy and wastewater management should be provided by building owners.

Urban farms - A large native plant nursery, greenhouse gardens as well as conservatories of rare exotic plant and animal species can be found in urban farms. 

This would be a daunting task for any city but with the right planning, implementation and resource, urban ecological restoration can be done effectively and efficiently. With public support, government initiative, and the expertise of partners like Rural Design, it’s possible to create a healthy green cities all over the country within our lifetime

The Manuka Tree and Its Benefits

Most commonly found throughout New Zealand is the native Leptospermum scoparium, or Manuka, also known as the New Zealand tea tree—known for its barks that were used for tea by early settlers. It  looks like a small shrub with pointy leaves. Small flowers in white, sometimes pink, grow on the Manuka that blooms in good seasons like summer and spring. The Manuka is also able to grow in dry and wet places. In fact, when the Manuka tree fully develops, it is able to withstand long droughts and frost.

Aside from being a part of nature’s picturesque design, the Manuka is useful for so many other things. Its usefulness varies in range and purpose. These include:

Native Plant Nurseries for regenerating New Zealand native bush.

Manuka plants are special because they are resilient and can grow in extreme weathers/climates. They can grow in harsh soils like and steep wild country. Their  presence prevents soil erosion and allows for the growth of many other plants that they protect under their shade.

Since they are plants that are not usually eaten by animals, they are preferred for ecological restoration.

Planting and maintaining native plants or bushes such as the manuka on a farmland actually helps increase land value. They add landscape to the environment, protect other growing plants, provide food and shelter to wildlife creatures, and allow the native bushes to thrive. The trees are a source of honey and pollen for the insects.

Manuka Honey - Healthy & Yummy

Goes great on vogel's toast

Honey is often used to heal various numbers of illnesses. The honey that the Manuka produces can also be resourced for the same purposes—it can heal and treat cuts, burns and even pimples when applied on the skin. When taken orally, it can help ease sore throats. These are said to happen because of the Manuka honey’s antibacterial properties like methylglyoxal. When the concentration of this component is high, the healing effect of the honey is more active.

Caution must be observed when buying Manuka honey. UMF (Unique Manuka Factor) helps make sure that consumer rights are observed by assessing and providing high quality honey. Make sure to check the UMF on the bottle as well the place of origin (must be from New Zealand exclusively).

Manuka Oil

Manuka oil also produces a therapeutic scent. That is why it is often used in aromatherapy. Studies have shown that the oil is good for relieving stress and other psychological strains that affect the physiological functions of a person. 

Often times the oil is used to help body and foot odor. A few drops of the Manuka oil are added to the body wash for the effect. For other practical uses, the oil has also been sold as perfume.

The Manuka oil extends its beneficial use to household purposes. For one, the oil can be used as a disinfectant. Ants and other insects don’t like the smell the oil produces and stay away from it. Apart from killing the germs, it prevents the spreading of airborne viruses that causes colds.

The oil can also prevent molding in certain fabrics when used in laundry.

Manuka Wood

Even the Manuka wood is useful. Its wood is often recycled as handle on tools like hammers and axes. It can also be used for firewood.
The Manuka’s sawdust can also be used in adding flavor in grilling fish and meat. It also goes great for fresh smoking kahawai.

Overall, the native manuka plant supplies a lot of benefits for the environment and humanity. They are providers of many needs and we must play our parts in protecting them. Use native seeds like manuka to decorate your landscapes, reap its benefits and help the environment.


Ways to Landscape Your Land

Are you planning on landscaping a piece of rural property? Are you looking at the different options you have?

If your answer to both questions is a strong YES, know that there are various ways on how to landscape your land.

Gardening is one obvious choice. Gardens contain varieties of plants that vary in size, type and sometimes produce. Garden designs accommodate human needs like shade and recreation. The oldest type of gardening, forest gardening, was historically done to produce needs such as food and herbs.

There are several ways to landscape a rural area. Rural landscaping expands a land’s potential use for both living and nonliving beings. It allows for the safe use of the our natural resources. For example, when wetlands are landscaped and managed well, they can be a source of drinking water. Rural landscaping can also contribute to ecological restoration by managing the natural components in the environment.

Here are some examples on how you can landscape your land:

Use native plants like Kanuka and Manuka

Native plants can be used for landscaping. Manuka and kanuka plants are examples of New Zealand's native plants. Manuka trees can grow as high as 15 meters while kanukas can grow as high as 10 meters. These shrubs or trees have flowers growing on them in white or pink—one reason why they are often mistaken or related with one another.

Kanuka plants can grow on many soil types but not waterlogged ones. In contrast, manuka plants can grow on both wet and dry places. These two can also withstand strong winds, drought and frost. Apart from that, the two can live for long periods of time. Manuka trees can last up about to 60 years, while kanukas reach about 120.

Use wetlands

Landscaping can also apply to bodies of water such as wetlands. Marshes, swamps and peat bogs are examples of wetlands. Waters on these wetlands can also be fresh, salty and briny. Those who have wetlands within their property should consider themselves lucky.

Wetlands are great for landscaping because for one, they are naturally appealing. Nothing can beat its natural aesthetic beauty. Landscapers can modify the architecture of these waters to fit their or their client’s design and make it more appealing.

Another plus factor of using wetlands is its agricultural and economic uses. Wetlands help fertilize soil and purify water for drinking. They also help avoid natural calamities like floods and erosion.

Do large-scale gardening like forest farming

Forest farming is just like gardening, only to a bigger extent. Forest farming involves cultivating special crops on a modified environment. This allows for the growth and nourishment of the plants. It is good for landscaping because it allows for production of quality non-wood products. In the past, this was for farming plants like herbs near homes for medicinal needs.

For a business like Rural Design, you can have many more ways and ideas on how to landscape your land. Rural Design also offers native plants for sale like manuka and kanuka. In addition, we provide cost effective solutions for wetland and riparian management and many more. Learn what more of what we can offer you. Consult with us today!