06 Dec, 2021
Action on pest weeds is very much the poor cousin compared to pest animals. A report released this month by Simon Upton, Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, identifies that there is no plant equivalent to Predator Free 2050 - yet.
A weed is a plant that disrupts the natural balance of the ecosystem. Sadly, New Zealand is one of the weediest nations on the planet. Over the last two centuries, New Zealand has seen 1800 types of weeds introduced and naturalised. Naturalised is not a great thing – it means that the plant can survive in the ecosystem without human assistance. They now make up 44 percent of New Zealand’s flora.
These weeds become ‘Space Invaders’ that slowly and stealthily are taking over our back yards, our native bush and recreational reserves. Alarmingly most weeds are back yard escapees, many having once been ornamental plants that have been dumped or dispersed via birds or the wind from our own gardens. They arrive, survive, and then thrive to compete with, or poison our native plant species.
Weeds do not need to become widespread or abundant to cause harm. Especially as the climate warms. It’s a serious threat to our native plants, many of which are found nowhere else in the world.
But the good news is that a group of volunteers, with the support of the Northland Regional Council, have joined forces to tackle the Space Invaders. Known as Weed Action Piroa Brynderwyn (WAPB) this group has been gathering momentum and scale with over 10 neighbourhood groups and a community resource shed to assist new groups to get started.
For the last three years WAPB have removed or knocked back several major weed offenders in our area including moth plant, wild ginger, jasmine, Taiwan cherry and woolly nightshade. Climbing asparagus is the latest pest plant to get attention and is seen as a particular major threat in our region.
When it comes to baddies, wild ginger is listed as one of the Dirty Dozen.