A Golden Bay group has secured funding to tackle some of the area's "overwhelming" weeds.
Conservation Minister Dr Nick Smith has announced that 90 community groups are to receive $3.6 million in Government funding to support conservation projects to work with DOC "to protect the birds, plants, landscapes and habitats that make New Zealand special".
The Golden Bay weed buster programme Project De-Vine has secured $179,998 from the Biofund to start the control of the pest vines banana passion vine, old man's beard and climbing asparagus from 160 properties over the next three years in the Pohara area.
They have 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 co-ordinator Chris Rowse said the funding would employ three to six people to work in the area using primarily the "cut and paste" technique to clear vines. This involves hand cutting down each vine and pasting a gel on the stump.
"We're only going for vines because the pest vines are the biggest problem. They're much more invasive, they actually kill trees with their weight, shut out the light and suppress other plants from growing up," he said.
"Because of our special status here, with two national parks either side of us and the high biodiversity value of the region many people were keen to try to reduce the density and distribution of these rampant pests and link in with the work being started by Project Janszoon," he said.
He said "overwhelming" was the "number one word" most people used about the pest vines. Many had given up because the job seemed to be "too much". However, his weed team had "been able to do it" with excellent results.
"There are some beautiful patches of native forest on private land here that are very crucial for the natural regeneration of the area, by supplying a seed source. This project is preserving them and allowing them to flourish. We notice when you take away the vines the trees are able to really grow."
Mr Rowse said the success of two previous weed buster projects had contributed to securing the funding for the third and fourth projects. Over the last three and a half years the weed team have chopped down 74,000 banana and old man's beard vines.
"The second round of funding was for $184,000, which was for work on 31 properties. Then we applied for the third one. It took two years to organise."
During the process of compiling information for the recent fund application volunteers contacted 160 properties and discovered 95 needed help.
Volunteers asked land owners to complete self assessment forms. Mr Rowse said land owners had to indicate how much effort they were making themselves because their contributions had to equal or be more than the funding in "some shape or form".
Under the Nelson Tasman Regional Pest Management Strategy (RPMS), in Golden Bay climbing asparagus (only in eastern Golden Bay as a trial), banana passionvine and old man's beard are considered "progressive control plants". This means it's considered "feasible" to reduce the distribution and density of the pest plants.
"Like a lot of people who bought land here, we didn't appreciate the work that the weeds would need when we first came here. We got on top of the banana passionvine plants OK, but the seedlings keep returning, birds were bringing them back. We were despairing, we thought the seeds would never go."
With his wife they had secured QE II status for part of their land and they were concerned that the weeds would enter the area. It was while talking to a QEII adviser that they learned funding was available from the Biodiversity Condition fund to tackle the weeds.
"We applied to the condition fund and we got the money for the first project - that was for 16 properties and about $54,000, plus the council gave us $4000."
The Department of Conservation, local councils, and the QEII trust have all supported the weed work and have increased their pest vine control work in the area.
There will be a public meeting, with guest speakers, to discuss the project at Pohara Hall at the end of January. There will also be two working bees in February in Pohara, and in March at Tata Beach.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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