Climate change has focused attention on environmentally sound practices throughout the commercial world, if only because consumers
are increasingly averse to buying products with high environmental
This is most obvious for land-based industries, whose farming
activities have obvious environmental effects. But even without the
impetus of improved marketplace performance, being mindful of how the
environment is bearing up can boost the bottom line.
This was one of the drivers behind a Lincoln University
biodiversity exercise in the Waipara winegrowing district of North
Canterbury. Working with Waipara Valley Winegrowers, Landcare Research
and the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology, Lincoln’s
National Centre for Advanced BioProtection Technologies has developed
the Greening Waipara project, which aims to revitalize the natural
biodiversity of the district against the trend to monoculture that
winegrowing often involves.
Breaking up the monocultural vineyard landscape with areas of
native vegetation once common in Waipara has visual benefits, as well
as nurturing insects that pollinate and others that act as pest
predators. These are further encouraged by inter-vine planting of crops
such as buckwheat, where leafroller-munching wasps thrive, while
botrytis is kept in check with the use of organic mulches that in
Waipara eliminate the need for any fungicide in a normal season.
According to the New Zealand Herald, the experiment had its
genesis in a project initiated by the Hurunui District Council to put
an economic value on the services provided free by nature to
agricultural, pastoral and horticultural commerce. This research
project set out to establish such grassroots values as the worth of a
worm in maintaining soil fertility, and the economic contribution of
bees in fertilizing crops, from grass to grapevines.
While this research is continuing, and for many is simply a
quantification of a value that is already acknowledged by farmers, it
quickly became apparent that there was considerable immediate economic
benefit to be had in promoting biodiversity throughout the winegrowing
A key part of the Greening Waipara project is the development of
biodiversity trails at wineries, where visitors can be exposed to each
brand’s green image.
The trails take visitors through the native plantings that are
home to local insects, reptiles and birds. Ultimately, the trails are a
shop window for the project, showing how human systems can be more
natural and in tune with their environmental context.