War declared on Golden Bay weeds

The future is not bright for pest vines in Golden Bay.

The Golden Bay weedbuster programme, Project De-Vine, has just received the first instalment of $179,998 in funding to start the Pohara phase of its work.

This will enable the team to begin a three-year project to remove old man's beard, banana passion vine and climbing asparagus on private properties from Pohara to the start of Ligar Bay.

The work will then link with the previous two weedbuster projects which continue all the way to Rameka Creek. To date, more than 97,000 vines have been manually cut.

Project co-ordinator Chris Rowse said Pohara was the site of a significant infestation of climbing asparagus. Its orange and red berries had been spread by the birds and waterways across many properties and the foreshore.

He said climbing asparagus had been a common garden plant grown for its foliage, which was popular in cut flower arrangements.

"The weed team have been doing extensive work dealing with it between the Pohara cliffs and the road to Tarakohe for the last two years," he said.

He estimated that about 95 properties would need help to control the destructive vine, and more than 60 property owners were now doing the work unaided.

"We have already spoken with almost all the owners when the assessments were done. Due to the funding process taking so long, over two years have gone by since then."

Project De-Vine team leader Bianca Harris said the weedbusting work could be gruelling at times.

At its worst it could range from really wet and slippery to really prickly.

"I don't look like a normal mother when I turn up at school to pick up my son, I'm often covered in barberry and other weeds," she said.

Team member Mark Brignole said he had recently spent three weeks on the Tata peninsula swinging off ropes above trees to tackle a carpet of banana passion vine.

Last year Project De-Vine also secured $9000 to do the initial assessments and "encourage the start" of a pest vine programme for the Ligar Bay to Wainui areas.

Project De-Vine works under the umbrella of Forest and Bird.

The Nelson Mail