Golden Bay weed trust eyeballs landscape-scale eradication

Golden Bay's Project De Vine operations manager Charmaine Petereit.
Helen Murdoch/Fairfax NZ

Golden Bay's Project De Vine operations manager Charmaine Petereit.

Golden Bay's Project De Vine Trust is seeking community input to help it tackle landscape-scale pest and weed eradication near Nelson.

Project De Vine was born from a weed busting group initiated by now trust project leader Chris Rowse in 1999 to knock-down invasive vines in East Takaka.

The trust now employs contractors, leads voluntary weed teams and accesses grants worth around $250,000 annually in its fight to eradicate old man's beard, banana passionfruit and climbing asparagus from properties, bush and roadsides.

Trust operations manager Charmaine Petereit said to gain the traction it needed to take on bigger projects, and access to more funding, the trust had to move to the next level.

The trust joined with Fonterra, conservation group Friends of the Cobb and the Department of Conservation two years ago to share ideas.

On Sunday, the trust is holding a public workshop to gauge support and feedback about its plans to ramp up its work, including potentially forming a bigger trust entity called Project Mohua, Petereit said. 

 "It's really about putting the call out to the community to help us shape the next level.

"We feel we do not have a mandate from the community on how it sees Project Mohua moving forward and what we should be working on. We also want the community on board and more people to help us with this."

Sunday's workshop would cover the details of the proposed project along with three guest speakers; DOC's Nelson-based partnerships director Martin Rodd, Golden Bay botanist Dr Philip Simpson and Petereit.

She said potential Project Mohua visions included the re-introduction of the mohua bird to Golden Bay.

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It was also about protecting the biodiversity of Abel Tasman and Kahurangi national parks from invading weeds and pests.

"And we want to be able to tell the bigger funders that we are investment ready. We have good governance structures in place, clear and transparent financial systems, people with the right skill sets to manage money and the teams to deliver conservation work on the ground."

Project Mohua could also provide a one-stop support shop for smaller conservation groups and help with aspects like money management, co-ordination and media releases, Petereit said.

At the other end of the scale it would link with Abel Tasman National Park's Project Janszoon and the Te Tau Ihu conservation initiative across the top of the south which DOC, iwi and regional councils were currently working on, she said.

The new trust's work would not be strictly confined to Golden Bay and the swathes of invasive vines carpeting gullies near the Motueka borders of the national parks were on their radar, Petereit said.

 Landscape-scale community conservation was achievable, and necessary, she said.

"Tourism alone brings in a huge amount of money and people come to  see our unique biodiversity.

"But if invasive vines get hold they change the biodiversity of whole forests and have a knock-on effect on species and how those forests function.

"Project De Vine has shown eradication can be done.

"Our national parks are worth protecting. We are at the vanguard of this and if we get in right it can be rolled out across New Zealand," Petereit said.

"We really want people to come along because it's all about individuals stepping up and doing something.

 "It's big task but not undoable."

 The Project Mohua workshop will be held at Golden Bay High School's hall from 1pm to 5pm on Sunday.

 - Stuff

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