New Zealand’s fledging Weedbusters programme has received government backing for a further five years.
The Department of Conservation has agreed to provide $120k a year from the biodiversity funding package (NZBS) for Weedbusters, praising the results the national weeds awareness programme has achieved in under two years.
National Weedbusters coordinator Carolyn Lewis says invasive weed species are one of the most serious threats to biodiversity worldwide, yet a 2003 Weedbusters survey showed that only five per cent of New Zealanders considered weeds an environmental issue.
“The irony is that many weeds creating environmental headaches are introduced ornamental garden plants that have ‘jumped the fence’ and have gone wild,” Ms Lewis says.
“They are virtually on people’s doorsteps, and yet people don’t understand the damage they are causing.”
Weedbusters promotes public awareness of weeds and on the ground action through community groups and individuals volunteering their time to tackle weed issues in their areas.
“Natural habitats are continuing to be destroyed by invading weeds, but the launch of Weedbusters in New Zealand in 2003 has begun turning that around as people become more aware of weeds,” Ms Lewis says.
”The traditional low profile of weeds as a threat to the environment means it is important to continue building on the work already undertaken by Weedbusters. So this funding boost is very good news for our environment”, Ms Lewis said.
Other agencies, including regional councils, are assisting Weedbusters with regional coordinators and staff input. Ms Lewis says this role is expected to increase substantially over the coming five years.