Pōhutukawa

Image: Iain Urquhart | Creative Commons

Introduction

The Project Crimson Trust has been protecting and restoring pōhutukawa and rātā trees, and their ecosystems since 1990.

Project Crimson logo.

The Project Crimson Trust has been protecting and restoring pōhutukawa and rātā trees, and their ecosystems since 1990. 

It seems hard to believe but 30 years ago the future of pōhutukawa looked bleak. Possums were out of control and with a long history of exploitation and removal for farming and settlement, up to 90% of coastal pōhutukawa stands were gone.

Led by a bunch of enthusiastic and committed volunteers, Project Crimson partnered with the Department of Conservation. They set out to replant areas of the Northland coastline that were depleted of pōhutukawa. Such was the success that over the years that mandate broadened to a national focus, to include rātā, and more recently a wider ecosystem approach. More than 300,000 native trees have been planted by Project Crimson.

While their planting now includes all natives, at the heart of Project Crimson remain their four hero species: mainland pōhutukawa and the tree rātā – northern, southern and Bartlett's. These are the most threatened by possums and people.

Project Crimson advocates for these species and has carried out extensive research into the health of Metrosideros (the species to which pōhutukawa and rātā belong). 

Project Crimson was the first conservation group to focus on a single species. It has contributed strongly to the tree being adopted as a national icon, especially as a symbol of the New Zealand Christmas and summer. It is also an example of a successful partnership between business, government, science and community. 

See a map of project sites around the country.

Project Crimson’s Projects

Project Crimson supports many groups involving New Zealand's rātā and pōhutukawa – collectively named Crimson Trees. It helps to get these projects started and then watches them flourish with local support. The funding is spread to ensure a good balance between pōhutukawa and rātā.

Another significant project initiated by Project Crimson is Trees That Count – advocating for native trees since 2016. Find out more at the Trees that Count website.

Find out more of Project Crimson’s other projects- visit the Project Crimson website.

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