New Zealanders are being encouraged to pull a weed and plant a tree for Arbor Day celebrated on 5 June each year.
Weedbusters and the Department of Conservation (DOC) say Arbor Day is a great opportunity for everyone to do something special to protect and enhance New Zealand’s unique environment.
Weedbusters National Coordinator Carolyn Lewis said native plants defined New Zeland’s landscape, and were fundamental to the country’s lifestyle and culture.
“Plants such as the silver fern, the koru, flax leaves, and cabbage trees feature as national symbols. But our wonderful New Zealand environment is under serious threat by exotic plants that have naturalised into the wild,” Ms Lewis said.
“This was a problem that even Charles Darwin recognised back in the 1800’s when he said New Zealand’s native species were ‘rapidly yielding before the advancing legions of plants and animals introduced from Europe’. That problem, sadly, has not gone away.”
DOC spokeswoman Anne McLean said there are more exotic plant species than native plant species in the wild and 12-15 exotic plant species established into the wild in New Zealand every year, many of them garden escapes.
“One hundred and twenty nine of New Zealand’s native plants are now ‘acutely threatened’, including kaka beak, Chatham island forget–me-not, and the world’s rarest plant – the Three Kings kaikomako,” Ms McLean said.
“Arbor Day gives everyone an opportunity to take a stand and do their bit to turn things around. We are encouraging everyone to do something constructive for our environment on Arbor Day by getting rid of weeds and planting a tree,” Ms McLean said.
Ms Lewis said it was well recognised that trees played a crucial role in helping to balance the effects of global warming.
“Imagine the step forward we would take if every New Zealander got rid of a weed and planted a native New Zealand tree. It is a ‘win win’ for New Zealand, and New Zealanders would be setting an environmental trend for the rest of the world to follow,” she said.
“Our forests and parks provide social, economic, and health benefits for the whole country. Everyone has a part to play in protecting them.”
Arbor Day suggestions include:
• Plant a native tree.
• Weed your garden.
• Dispose of weeds properly. Your local council will be able to advise how.
• Learn how to identify weeds at www.weedbusters.org.nz
• Help out with local restoration projects
• Encourage your local councils to maintain pest control and support protection of threatened species and threatened communities through their plans.
• Learn more about our threatened native plants and how to identify them. This website is a good place to start http://www.nzpcn.org.nz/
• Find out what you have at home - over 50% of our threatened plants live on land that is privately owned.
• Remember Right Plant/Right Place. That means planting plants that belong in your area and are locally sourced
• Weed, water and mulch your plants so they survive
More information about Arbor Day is available on the Weedbusters website – www.weedbusters.org.nz or at www.doc.govt.nz/arborday