About one in four world plant species are endangered, creating urgency to preserve and find artificial ways to protect them. This was the sobering message from Karin Van Der Walt, Conservation and Science Advisor for the Wellington City Council at Wellington's much loved Otari Botanical Gardens.
David Barnes reports.
What can we do? Karin specified that the team always need volunteers, and money for new scientific equipment, as WCC do not see this as part of their remit.
Please reply to the editors with your ideas and if you would like to be a part of our Club supporting Karin, Otari Bush and their mission
This protection will require an integrated approach to conservation using different strands of knowledge and expertise. These include seed banking, research and understanding how seeds behave in storage.
Karin migrated to New Zealand ten years ago from South Africa. She did her PhD at Massey University and served on South Africa's panel providing input to the World Conservation and Plant Strategy 2011-2020.
Otari was first developed in the 1900s and is the only garden in New Zealand dedicated to native plants. It contains five hectares of plant collections and around 1200 native species. 
The focus of Karin's work is understanding the behavior of seeds and their propagation. She used the example of the Kauri, whose seeds do not preserve well, making seed banking difficult. 
Greater understanding enables scientists to understand the optimal conditions for banking and propagation. This includes how to store seeds at the best temperature and conditions based on the seeds' unique taxonomy, thus leading to these seeds being able to propagate new plants in the future. 
The Wellington community has been inspired to back Otari and help it reach its potential. 
The Lions Club of Karori gave Otari $72,000 to fund a research lab. A mix of scholarships and university collaboration led to graduate students conducting research in 2018 and 2019. There was a further expansion in 2021/22 supported by Council, Lotteries and private funding.