Origins and History

The word “ecosourcing”, a uniquely New Zealand term, is 20 years old. It was invented over a cup of coffee at the Taupo Native Plant Nursery in 1989 as a way of describing the concept of genetic integrity of plant material to purchasers of native plants.

Ecosourcing describes the practice of propagating and planting indigenous plant material that has been derived from a local provenance, i.e a population of naturally occuring vegetation growing close to the planting site. This practice has been encouraged because it contributes to retention of genetic integrity of local populations. Introduction of plant material from other provenances is regarded as genetic pollution.

The internationally accepted and applied concept of genetic integrity has older origins. Here in New Zealand it was probably Dr. Eric Godley who, in the early 1970′s first introduced the idea of genetic pollution. His rule was: “plant natives reared from locally collected seed only”. There is some evidence that the concept was understood and put into practice earlier. Revegetation of the area around the Aratiatia Dam and power station near Taupo during the 1960s was accomplished with plant material that was mainly sourced from local provenances.