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Weedbusting efforts improving popular Kāpiti Coast track

Press Release – Joint Press Release
Native biodiversity and the public are reaping the benefits of Ngā Uruora’s restoration project on Kāpiti Coast’s popular Paekākāriki Escarpment Track.

Since starting 20 years ago, the charitable trust has planted tens of thousands of native plants and has also battled a huge suite of ecological weeds on the escarpment.

Weeds like bone seed, cape ivy, and pampas that were infesting the escarpment have now been knocked back to just a few specimens clinging on in hard-to-access sites. Other species that have been tackled include English ivy, banana passionfruit, brush wattles, and boxthorn. Tradescantia and periwinkle are also on the target list.

Ngā Uruora spokesperson, Paul Callister, has been involved with the project practically from the start, and says it’s made him realise how important weed control is for restoration projects.

“I was originally inspired to get involved by the vision to plant trees and bring birds back to the coast, and to be honest, I enjoyed the planting not the weeding side at first’, says Paul.

“But after several years, I soon realised how critical weed control was to biodiversity restoration. Without weed control, the plantings didn’t have much chance.”

Paul says community involvement has been a critical part of the project’s success.

‘Thousands of volunteer hours have been gifted to the project, and without wider community help, we wouldn’t be able to prevent weeds from reinvading from surrounding seed sources,’ he says.

Greater Wellington Regional Council and Porirua and Kāpiti Coast district councils support the project. Neighbouring landowners play a vital role, providing access to the escarpment across their land for weed control efforts.

Support has also come from the Transmission Gully project and KiwiRail who are helping by controlling weeds along the transport corridors that pass by the escarpment.

Late last year the QEII Community Weedbusters Project (QECW) provided loppers, saws, secateurs, herbicides, and gloves to the group, which will be put to use over the summer months.

Project spokesperson Mike Urlich says QECW was delighted to support the project.

‘It is an inspiration to us all and the benefits for biodiversity and people enjoying the track are only going to get better with time,’ he says.

A group of weedbusters meets every Tuesday morning, focusing on the Pukerua Bay end of the escarpment. Volunteers are always welcome to join in and help. Because of the challenging terrain volunteers need to be fit and not be afraid of heights. Contact paul.callister@outlook.com if you would like to get involved.

The Paekakariki Escarpment track runs from Paekakariki Overbridge to Pukerua Bay on the Kāpiti Coast. It was conceived by long time Ngā Uruora Kāpiti Project member and weed expert Ken Fraser (https://kapitibush.org.nz/2015/12/03/how-it-started-paekakariki-escarpment-track/).

Ngā Uruora Kāpiti Project (Inc) is a charitable trust that has a (500-year) goal of reversing the drastic decline of forest along the Kāpiti coast and create a continuous ribbon of bird-safe native forest from Porirua through to Waikanae.

Since beginning this work in the late 1990s, NUKP has involved wide sectors of the community in the restoration project. A key element of this work is ecological weed control. Thousands of hours of volunteer labour coupled with support from Regional and District council funders and contractors has been invested in battling a huge suite of ecological weeds over the past 20 years. The group have also planted tens of thousands of native plants.

A track on the escarpment was initially needed so volunteers could access the area for restoration work. Subsequent discussions between NUKP and Te Araroa (The Long Pathway – New Zealand’s long distance tramping route that extends from Cape Reinga to Bluff), resulted in the development of a public access track, opened in April 2016, that has provided an exciting new section of Te Araroa for people to walk as well as facilitating access for volunteers doing pest and weed control work and plantings.

Environmental weeds pose an insidious threat to New Zealand’s natural heritage and are a major issue for anyone managing natural areas. Weeds impact on our iconic landscapes, fragment habitats, degrade protected areas and suppress natural regeneration. Environmental weeds reduce the productivity of the natural heritage that New Zealanders value, protect, and are working to restore. Environmental weeds are an issue for all regions of New Zealand and effect all habitat types, including coastal, forest, alpine, riparian and wetland habitats. Environmental weeds pose a significant threat to threatened native plants that often have fragmented ranges or are range restricted.

Queen Elizabeth II (QEII) National Trust is an independent statutory organisation and registered charity that partners with private landowners to help them permanently protect special natural and cultural heritage sites on their land with covenants. It is the perpetual trustee for a network of over 4,200 covenants currently protecting around 180,000ha of New Zealand’s natural heritage.

www.openspace.org.nz

Weedbusters NZ is national interagency programme launched in 2003 to raise awareness and interest in weeds issues, and to encourage individuals and communities to get active in environmental weed control. Weedbusters NZ is supported by the Department of Conservation, Ministry for Primary Industries, Landcare Research, Landcare Trust, Forest & Bird, the Nursery and Garden Industry NZ, QEII National Trust, all regional councils/unitary authorities, and the majority of district and city councils.

www.weedbusters.org.nz

QEII Community Weedbusters Project (QECW) is a joint programme run by Weedbusters NZ and the QEII National Trust. Using a fund granted by DOC’s Community Conservation Partnership Fund, the QECW project supports voluntary weedbusting efforts being run by community groups.

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