The Rotorua Botanical Society has been honoured at the annual Regional Weedbuster Awards, held by the Department of Conservation (DOC) and Environment Bay of Plenty to celebrate and recognise volunteer groups and individuals who make outstanding contributions through weedbusting efforts.
Environment Bay of Plenty Weedbusters Coordinator Sara Brill said judges were particularly impressed with the Rotorua Botanical Society’s vision and objectives of restoration and community involvement with the “Okareka mistletoe restoration project”.
The project, started in 2002, is based in the Lake Tikitapu Scenic Reserve administered by DOC, and the neighboring Lake Okareka marginal strip. It is a joint effort between the Society, DOC, Rotorua Forest and Bird, and Environment BoP.
Ms Brill said the main focus initially was to protect the native mistletoe species Tupeia Antarctica, under threat from invasive weeds and possums. The Society’s role was focused entirely on weed control in the two reserves, with a secondary focus of restoring vegetation in some areas following weed control.
“The judges at the Weedbuster Awards found that the Society had been very effective in educating the local community. This was evident from the reduction in garden waste dumping at the Reserve,” she said.
DOC spokeswoman Sarah Crump said that since 2002 the Society had cut and removed exotic vines including ivy, jasmine, Japanese honeysuckle, and old mans beard from several areas of both reserves. “They have also felled and pulled out cherry, strawberry dogwood, Japanese walnut, wattles, Himalayan honeysuckle and cotoneaster trees and shrubs.
Ms Crump said the weed control and revegetation part of the overall Okareka mistletoe restoration project, along with monitoring programmes, had been led and managed entirely by the Rotorua Botanical Society.
“The core component of volunteers at each workday has been members. However, the Society has strongly encouraged the local community and other members of the public to assist with the work,” Ms Crump said.
DOC and Environment BOP staff have not been required to assist on the ground with workdays since 2003 as the Rotorua Botanical Society has the in-house skills and experience to manage the project itself. However, both organisations provide assistance with equipment and advice from time to time.
Ms Crump said the Society was doing a tremendous job with its objectives. “And the tireless weedbusting efforts of its members continues to educate and inspire the local Okareka community,” Ms Crump said.