29 Aug 2015

War on weeds welcomed

7:23 am on 29 August 2015

An environment protection group says the Government's "war on weeds" is long overdue.

Conservation Minister Maggie Barry directed the Department of Conservation to put $1.25 million into weed control groups this year.

The campaign modelled on last year's Battle for the Birds will target 12 introduced species including Lantana, Banana Passionfruit and English Ivy.

Desert Road Invasive Legume Control Group spokesperson Craig Davey praised the shift in Government focus to weeds.

"It's fantastic news - from where I sit it's long over due buts it's great to have that priority put to weeds."

Mr Davey said weeds created more problems than the public realise.

He said weeds could change the fertility of a place by the nature of their ability to mine nutrients and that can change the sort of species that can survive in an area.

"They can prevent native species from using areas and they can forever change a landscape."

Nursery and Garden Industry Association of New Zealand chief executive Dr John Liddle supported the approach.

"Anything that supports getting rid of weeds within the gardening environment is basically good for the environment."

New Zealand Gardener magazine editor Jo McCarrol was pleased that the Government was giving invasive weeds attention.

"People think of weeds just in the context of their gardens, but of course introduced plants pose a real threat to some of the beautiful natural areas of New Zealand, as well as some of our agricultural economy."

She said more money could be made available for weed eradication.

"I think it's good to see investment. It would always be good to see more investment. This is something the longer we leave it the harder and more intractable the problem will become, but at the same time I really do applaud Minister Barry for making it a priority.

"It perhaps isn't the sexy area of conservation that people want to focus on, maybe saving a beautiful bird or beautiful natural areas, but these weeds have the real potential to take over those areas and destroy the habitat and impact on things like our bird life."

Ms Barry said she would also announce more money for a war on wilding trees.

Ms McCarrol said wilding pines are a major problem in certain parts of New Zealand left to a group of volunteers to get on top of.

"I really applaud the fact that more resources are being put into that, [but] I don't think this is something that should be left to volunteers."