Weeds are space invaders; invading everything from forests to waterways – and now they’ve marched into cyber-space. The new Weedbusters website (www.weedbusters.org.nz) hosts dank dark weeds that look set to smother your screen. But these weeds are under control and on closer inspection the website tells you all you need to know about busting weeds and more.
Weedbusters is a public awareness and education programme about invasive weeds. Since the programme’s launch in October 2003, Weedbusters have obviously been hard at work. A quick glance at the website’s photo gallery (go to ‘news’) is proof enough.
In Southland, Weedbusters have been busy at the Kingswood Bush Scenic Reserve. This small remnant of native bush has become the focus of a partnership between the Department of Conservation and the Woodlands community.
“Kingswood Bush Scenic Reserve had become overgrown and infested with several weed species, and was becoming less desirable for the community to use. So, when the Woodlands community expressed interest in forming a partnership to manage the site, one of the ways DOC was able to help was through Weedbusters”, said Lynne Sheldon-Sayer, Biodiversity Ranger Weeds.
A successful funding application to the Weedbusters Local Initiative fund set the ball rolling and the first ‘Woodlands Weed Whackers’ work day was held at the reserve in April. Thirty people including DOC and Environment Southland staff were present. Lots of educational games were played, prizes given and after a BBQ lunch the group ventured into the bush to eradicate the weeds.
“The workday enabled us to educate the community and carry out weed eradication at the same time”, said Lynne Sheldon-Sayer. The children worked in small groups with a DOC staff member to hand weed the Chilean Flame Creeper – a climbing plant that was easy for them to identify and pull down. Adults were able to safely use vigilant gel to paint on the many sycamore trees in the reserve.
Now thanks to the new website, these efforts are there for the world to see. Weedbusters National Coordinator, Amber Bill says “We want to encourage people to learn about weeds in their area, and to take action against problem plants. The website is one way to show how much energy already goes into battling weeds and to give people easy access to good information and expert advice.”
Incentives like a winning a $50 Gardening New Zealand voucher certainly helps; all you have to do is correctly identify the weed and go into a monthly draw.
According to DOC weed ecologist Clayson Howell, two thirds of environmental weeds were brought into New Zealand for ornamental use. Howell says, “plants that establish readily, grow quickly, and require little care sound ideal for the garden, but these are also characteristics of many of our most invasive weeds.” The Weedbusters programme is about helping people understand and minimise this risk.
Visit www.weedbusters.org.nz to find out what events and activities are coming up near you, to check out local weed issues, or to find out who you can contact for information.
For more information please contact Lynne Sheldon-Sayer at the Department of Conservation, Ph 03 214 4589; firstname.lastname@example.org. Background information is available at www.doc.govt.nz and click on: Conservation; Weeds.