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Stop the Killers

23 August 2005

Stop the Killers

"Killer" pest plants are the target of a new campaign from Greater Wellington Regional Council's Be the Difference programme. The campaign includes posters of pest plants asking "Have You Seen This Killer?" or "Wanted Dead not Alive", a graffiti-art billboard on the Wellington waterfront and the chance to win a native garden makeover.

If left to run rampant, pest plants will choke out native species which provide food and habitat for many native fish, birds and insects.

"If you don't look after the native plants eventually Wellington, and perhaps even New Zealand, will lose the species that rely on them," says Ian Buchanan, Chairman of Greater Wellington. "Pest plants can stop native seedlings, strangle trees and invade fragile areas like dunes and wetlands. This reduces the number of places where our native wildlife can live and flourish." Unfortunately pest plants are very successful in the region, but Greater Wellington Regional Council is not prepared to sit back and watch the region lose its native plants and animals.

Ian Buchanan said the new campaign was timed to fit with the gardeners' calendar when spring cleaning occurs and major planting changes can be made.

The campaign is focussing on some of the more common pest plants that are frequently found in home gardens in the region. A graffiti-art billboard has been installed around the site where construction of Waitangi Park is happening near Wellington's Overseas Terminal. This carries the "Stop The Killers" and "Go Native" messages and features pictures of killer pest plants as well as showing native plants.

Posters are also being pasted up around the region featuring photos of pest plants and slogans such as "Wanted Dead Not Alive", "Have You Seen This Killer?" and "Wanted For Murder".

Over 12,300 households who are members of the Be the Difference programme will this week be receiving an information pack on how to recognise and dispose of seven common pest plants - buddleia, cape ivy, cotoneaster, onion weed, montbretia, Darwin's barberry, and tradescantia. Members are encouraged to remove these pest plants and replace them with native plants.

They also have the chance to win a $3000 garden makeover. The Be the Difference programme is open to all residents of the Wellington region and it is free to join. Members receive information packs at least three times a year, giving advice and tips on how they can protect the environment and live a more sustainable lifestyle. To join Be the Difference visit www.bethedifference.gw.govt.nz

ENDS

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