The hunt is on for pesky plants lurking in the margins of Tauranga harbour. Four Bay of Plenty Polytechnic students from the Diploma of Environmental Management course are surveying the entire harbour looking for the invasive weed, Spartina.
The Department of Conservation (DOC) and Environment Bay of Plenty (EBOP) have been working to eradicate spartina from Tauranga harbour for several years and it is now at a stage where there are very few known sites that have not been controlled to zero density, with no adult plants present.
The survey is part of the Western Bay of Plenty Weedbusters programme and is to ensure that no new patches of spartina have appeared in the Tauranga harbour.
Spartina (cord grass) was introduced from Europe to reclaim mudflats and intertidal zones, and many farmers used it to graze stock on marginal land. Unfortunately spartina can reduce large estuaries and shallow harbours to narrow channels, reducing the area available to other plants and removing habitat for wading birds, flatfish and shy wetland birds like rails and crakes.
EBOP has recognised the long-term potential threats associated with spartina and have included it in their Regional Pest Management Strategy as an eradication pest plant.
“Both agencies are pleased to have the assistance of BOP Polytechnic and students with the skills to do this intensive survey over the next four weeks, dependent on tides and weather. The health of the harbour is of concern to everyone and this survey will go a long way towards permanent removal of spartina from Tauranga harbour,” said Kirby Weis, DOC Programme Manager of Community Relations.