It’s time to put the gardening gloves on and head into the depths of the backyard to target invasive weeds before they start flowering.
Auckland Council is encouraging landowners to get a copy of the Rodney Local Board’s ‘Worst Weeds’ brochure and help prevent weeds from hopping the garden fence and smothering native forest.
The Board has printed 10,000 copies of the pamphlet which identifies the 16 worst weeds in the region and includes information on how to eradicate them.
It is available at libraries, Council service centres and has been distributed to environmental groups.
Senior biosecurity advisor Holly Cox says, with nine regional parks and large areas of native bush, Rodney is on the front line in protecting important ecological areas from being overrun by pest plants.
“Every little bit counts,” Ms Cox says. “If everyone does their bit, then the battle is half won.”
Most of the pest plants were first introduced as garden plants, which makes it important that people are aware of which species are problematic.
“Many of the worst weeds were really popular among gardeners. The most famous example is that wild ginger was on the front page of NZ Gardener in 1974 – now it’s a problem weed.”
Another example is phoenix palm, which is now a controlled weed. In 2007, Auckland Regional Council moved to control the plant and it is now banned from sale.
“It’s an attractive plant for some people, but it’s a big problem. If people are set on keeping their palm, they can remove the fruiting bodies, but that can be dangerous and costly for larger palms.”
The weeds of biggest concern are species which can be spread by birds or by the wind. Climbing asparagus is an example of a weed that can have a devastating effect on native bush, smothering the understorey of plants, and can be spread by birds eating the seed.
“There are large areas of park land where it is really common,” Ms Cox says.
The Local Board has funded an extensive programme to remove climbing asparagus to create a buffer zone around Tawharanui Regional Park.
Meanwhile, Council has delayed consultation on a proposed Regional Pest Management Policy. The plan will identify which pests to prioritise and how they will be managed. The last plan came in to force in 2007 and expired in 2012.
Council called for submissions last November, but due to the large number of submissions a draft plan won’t be released until mid next year.
The Ministry for Primary Industries is consulting on managing biosecurity risks and a public meeting will be held at the Auckland Town Hall on Wednesday August 24, 10am to 1pm. A hui will also be held at Mataatua Marae in Mangere on August 25, from 10am to 1pm.
The meetings follow the launch of the “Biosecurity 2025” discussion document, which was released by the Minister for Primary Industries, Nathan Guy, this month.
Public submissions on the discussion document close September 9.
A copy of the Biosecurity 2025 consultation document Protecting to grow New Zealand is available from the MPI website mpi.govt.nz/biosecurity-2025