The Project Crimson Trust has been protecting and restoring pōhutukawa and rātā trees, and their ecosystems since 1990.
It seems hard to believe but 25 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.
Community Restoration Programme
Project Crimson supports a wide range of projects involving New Zealand's rātā and pōhutukawa through their Community Restoration Programme. Its aim is to help get these projects started and then to watch them flourish with local support. The funding is spread to ensure a good balance between pōhutukawa and rātā.
Past applicants include public organisations, community groups, conservation groups, individuals on private land (with a public value), marae groups and even sporting groups.
Projects must be able to demonstrate some public value, and must be focussed on the protection of pōhutukawa and rātā. Funding can be sought for possum and pest control work, research, pōhutukawa and rātā trees, fencing, general maintenance, propagation materials, weed control and other activities related to the protection and enhancement of the trees.
For more information visit the Project Crimson website.