A new control initiative for wild ginger involving a massive postcard mail-out to local residents by the local regional council is enjoying encouraging early success on the West Coast of the South Island.
And Weedbusters National Coordinator Carolyn Lewis believes it is a great example of what can be done when a combined effort is made by agencies and communities.
“Wild ginger, introduced to New Zealand from India in the late 1800’s, is a major threat to New Zealand’s native bushland, establishing under the forest canopy in many areas. It’s already rapidly spread throughout Auckland, Coromandel and Northland on the North Island, and is now a growing problem in parts of the top of the South Island and the West Coast,” Ms Lewis said.
“It is a classic case of a garden plant gone ‘bad’, escaping into areas where it causes major environmental damage, crowding out other species and upsetting the natural process of regeneration in bush areas.
“However, Weedbusters is encouraged by the early results from this new West Coast project on the South Island – a collaborative effort between the West Coast Regional Council, Weedbusters, the Department of Conservation, and the local community,” Ms Lewis said.
“It has been the very first co-ordinated approach to controlling ginger on the West Coast, and it shows just what can be achieved with a co-operative community effort,” she said.
West Coast Rregional Council’s Weedbusters coordinator Mary Trayes said the West Coast Regional Council had sent out a ginger information postcard, produced by DOC, to all its regional ratepayers with their usual council rates notice last March
The ‘postcards’ asked ratepayers to contact either the Council or DOC if they had wild ginger in their gardens.
“Wild ginger has been an increasing problem on the West Coast, and is still widely grown in gardens. It has also spread to natural bushland near settlements, establishing in some places under the forest canopy,” Ms Trayes said.
“We’ve been able to reach 14,500 of our ratepayers with the mail-out, increasing community awareness of the wild ginger problem substantially, and strengthening the community effort to get rid of wild ginger,” Ms Trayes said.
DOC’s Tom Belton – also a Weedbusters coordinator - said the response, particularly in the Greymouth area, had been excellent.
“Contractors, paid for by DOC, have since dealt with more than one thousand plants, either by spraying or by cutting and applying herbicide gel.”
Mr Belton said some early summer control had also paid dividends with many areas of ginger in the Greymouth region now dying off.
Mr Belton said the control programme would continue for at least a further three years.
The West Coast wild ginger control project was made possible by funding provided to DOC from the New Zealand Biodiversity Strategy (NZBS) and the efforts of the West Coast Regional Council to promote public awareness of the project.
“The West Coast Regional Council’s contribution has also been vital with support for information gathering, weedbusting activities, and its efforts in taking reports from the public about wild ginger locations,” Mr Belton said.