On Sunday November 7, 11 keen volunteers became ‘weedbusters’ for a day on Matiu/Somes Island
While other Wellingtonians basked in the sun, these volunteers crawled amongst the scrub and fought their way through tangles of branches, in order to cut and pull out as much karo as possible.
The volunteers were given a short briefing about karo and how to tackle it, before they scrambled up the banks and disappeared into the scrub. Voices could be heard amongst the bushes but it wasn’t until the call for a well earned BBQ lunch was made that the volunteers emerged again.
Although karo is a native species, it is considered an ecological pest on Matiu/Somes Island because it is not native to the island. The karo on the island needs to be removed because it grows and establishes rapidly leaving other plants shaded, with little or no access to sunlight. The objective is to eliminate karo from the island by progressive and methodical removal across the island.
The trip was coordinated by the Department of Conservation (DOC), as part of a Weedbuster’s programme. Over the past year, Weedbusters groups have been established nationwide. The purpose of the Weedbusters programme is to reduce the threat of weeds to New Zealand's natural environment. Weeds are one of the greatest threats to the environment.
“It was great to work with such a keen and enthusiastic group of volunteers. Hopefully we can run more days like this in the future” said DOC Community Relations Ranger Chandra Littlewood.
As stated by one of the volunteers “It is good to see conservation in action. Hands on is the best way to learn and appreciate the natural environment”.
The removal of karo from Matiu/Somes Island is an ongoing project. DOC will be running a regular karo removal volunteer programme. Volunteers who would like to be involved should contact DOC, Poneke Area Office in 2005.