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Papamoa residents on hunt for invasive shrub

Papamoa residents on hunt for invasive shrub



Environment Bay of Plenty’s Sara Brill and buckthorn

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For immediate release: Wednesday 5 April 2006

Papamoa East residents are being asked to hunt down an invasive evergreen shrub that poses a serious threat to the coastal environment.

Environment Bay of Plenty wants to make sure buckthorn (Rhamnus alaternus)does not spread from suburban areas into the wild dunelands between Papamoa and the Kaituna River. Because of this, it is offering to remove - for free – any plants growing on properties at the far end of Papamoa.

“We want to create a buffer zone,” says pest plant officer Sara Brill. “And, to do that, we need the help of people living in the area.”

This month, Sara is sending a flier to all 600 households in the target area, which starts at Taylor’s Reserve and includes Motiti Rd and Karewa Parade.

She asks residents to call her if they have buckthorn growing on their property so she can organise the plant’s removal. “Buckthorn is a terrible pest, especially when it gets into the sand dunes and coastal cliffs such as at Maketu and Mauao. It can grow very large, and will push out the native plants such as the pohutukawa we would rather see there.”

Buckthorn is an old problem along the coast and grows on many properties in Tauranga and Mount Maunganui. However, people may not even realise they are nurturing an invasive weed, Sara explains. “Birds eat the berries from female plants and then distribute them far and wide.”

Auckland Regional Council spent $80,000 controlling the pest plant in coastal areas and on offshore islands last year. “By doing this project, we have a very real opportunity to save on costly eradication in future.”

Buckthorn is a glossy-leaved rounded evergreen shrub that can grow up to five metres high. Its leaves are leathery and can have toothed edges. When its not in flower or berry, buckthorn can be confused with other shrubs like Cotoneaster or the Japanese Spindle Tree. A useful distinguishing feature for identification is that buckthorn has two small dimples on the underside of the leaf, at the base of the leaf and either side of the midrib.

Please call Sara on 0800 ENV BOP (368 267) to report any buckthorn plants growing in the Papamoa east area. She can also help if you want to know the best way to remove other pest plants.

ENDS

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