New Zealanders will be encouraged to roll up their sleeves and join forces to fight against invasive weeds in a new campaign launched today by Conservation Minister Maggie Barry.
“It’s time to declare War on Weeds,” Ms Barry says. “They choke our forests and waterways, restrict habitat and could ruin cherished and valuable landscapes.”
“We’re focusing efforts on what we are calling the Dirty Dozen, 12 weeds which are causing particular problems in different parts of the country. They are weeds which everyone will be able to identify and help to remove with minimal equipment.”
Left uncontrolled, these weeds could invade more than half a million hectares of protected land within 15 years, posing a threat to one third of all New Zealand’s threatened plant species.
The impact of exotic weeds goes beyond conservation of our landscapes. Research by the Royal Society suggests they cost the agricultural sector more than $1.2 billion a year in lost productivity and control costs.
DOC currently manages 350 different types of weed, spending more than $10 million a year on control efforts.
“A weed is often a plant in the wrong place, and I want our War on Weeds campaign to focus people’s attention on the problems these weedy ecoinvaders cause,” Ms Barry says. “It’s an opportunity to get some exercise pulling out weeds in the great outdoors, in the cause of helping the environment.”
More than $1.2 million Community Conservation Partnerships Funding will go towards weed eradication this year.
“The scale of the challenge is daunting, but I have confidence that together we can make a difference for our natural heritage.”
In a subsequent Media Statement on 3 September 2015 Conservation Minister Maggie Barry announced a $918,000 commitment to the War on Weeds through this year’s round of Community Conservation Partnerships Fund grants.
$500,000 will go to a significant joint programme run by Weedbusters NZ and the QEII National Trust, and will be used to fund voluntary weedbusting efforts by community groups, alongside regional and local councils.
An additional $418,000 will go to other projects tackling problem plants such as old man’s beard, banana passionfruit and other members of the Dirty Dozen weeds launched on August 27.
At Tuff Crater in Auckland today Ms Barry visited a weeding group run by Forest and Bird, in conjunction with Weedbusters, aimed at restoring the crater’s native landscape.
“Tuff Crater is a great example of a community project which has made a tangible difference to a landscape,” Ms Barry says. “A dedicated band of volunteers have weeded out exotic plants like climbing asparagus and ivy, set up a network of pest traps and made the crater into a place everyone can enjoy, full of native wildlife and plants in the heart of the North Shore.”
“There are community initiatives like this across New Zealand. Through Weedbusters and the CCPF funding, we can help them fight the War on Weeds and make significant gains for conservation.”
Further Community Conservation Partnership Fund announcements, including money for wilding pine control as part of the War on Weeds, will be made over the next month.
In total, more than $1.2 million will be committed to weeds in this round of CCPF grants.
Coloured images of the “Dirty Dozen”