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Wickedly good first year for Weedbusters

Wickedly good first year for Weedbusters

Wednesday 20 October 2004

Bay of Plenty weedbusters are celebrating a wickedly good first year’s work in their region.

Dozens of local volunteers, schools and community groups have supported the Weedbusters awareness programme since its launch last October by the Department of Conservation.

Environment Bay of Plenty’s Wendy Baker, the regional Weedbusters coordinator, says activities have included working bees, weed walks, school visits and teacher training workshops. People are always keenly interested in weeds and want to know how to identify, control and dispose of them, Ms Baker says.

Weedbusters, as a national public awareness and education initiative, helps to strengthen the impact of weed education at a regional level. “The Bay of Plenty’s population is growing fast so there are always new residents, so we can’t slow down – we need to keep getting our messages out into the community.”

Weedbuster’s national coordinator Amber Bill says the first year of the Weedbusters programme has shown how keen New Zealanders are to protect the environment from weeds.

“In its first year, Weedbusters has blossomed into a national, interagency weeds education and awareness programme, with a range of special events and Weedbusting days throughout the country. In our second year we aim to encourage even more New Zealanders to join the groundswell of community support for efforts to control and eradicate weeds,” Ms Bill says.

Weedbusters public awareness and education initiative was launched by the Minister for Conservation Chris Carter in October 2003 to strengthen the national focus on weeds, and is being led by the Department of Conservation in collaboration with regional councils, and with input from the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Nursery and Garden Industry Association, New Zealand Biosecurity Institute, and Federated Farmers New Zealand.

Ms Bill says that currently New Zealand’s weeds problem costs the country more than 100 million dollars a year in lost production and preventative measures.

“We now have more than 200 plants, originally introduced as ornamental garden species, which have become serious pests in the environment. And there are others that have the potential to spread and damage our native environment,” she says.

“A weedbusting effort can be something as simple as the home gardener having a good awareness about the plants in their garden and taking care not to grow invasive weeds, or for the really keen they might want to join or form their own community Weedbusters group.”

If you want to find out more about Weedbusters in the Bay of Plenty call Wendy Baker at Environment Bay of Plenty on 0800 ENV BOP (368 267) or visit www.weedbusters.org.nz.


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