Plant pests under attack

Last updated 06:29 24/12/2013
TARGETED: A cluster of sycamore seeds.

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Clearing out sycamore and old man's beard over a 200-hectare area in South Canterbury is a tough job - but a conservation group has received $45,000 to help get rid of it.

The Conservation Ministry's latest round of biodiversity funding has set aside money to help protect areas jointly managed by the South Canterbury branch of the Queen Elizabeth II National Trust and local landowners.

The trust helps private landowners in New Zealand protect significant natural and cultural features with open space covenants.

South Canterbury regional spokesman Rob Smith said there was a significant amount of work required in parts of the Waihi Bush, Kakahu, Lower Hook and Makikihi areas.

"Sycamore is a real problem in those areas. It grows quickly, spreads its seed even quicker and crowds out all the native plants," Mr Smith said.

"We sometimes have to educate some landowners, who plant sycamore without realising its effect on the rest of the area, but once they learn about it they're pretty positive."

Mr Smith said the group was pleased with the $45,000 grant in the latest round of funding.

However, it had applied for $69,000.

"This means we will have to re- prioritise some of the work. It's a big area to cover, but every little bit of funding helps," he said.

Mr Smith said it had initially targeted 200ha area over the next year.

"We're pretty efficient and we have a lot of help from some volunteer groups. We'll get some contractors to chop through the worst of it," he said.

Mr Smith said the South Canterbury Conservation Trust held monthly work days, where volunteers would clear invasive weeds, and plant natives in their place.

"They could always do with more people," he said.

Old man's beard [Clematis vitalba] continued to be a nuisance in the region.

"If you don't clear out these pest plants, they keep growing back," he said.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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