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Wild ginger under attack

Wild ginger under attack

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Wild ginger under attack
For immediate release: Monday 25 September 2006

Wild ginger is under attack up the East Cape.

Environment Bay of Plenty will soon complete the first stage of a major three-year control programme to protect unique tracts of coastal forest.

The programme was launched after a regional council survey found Kahili ginger scattered over more than 600ha, and on 250 properties, between Torere, near Opotiki, and the top of the East Cape. So far, local contractors have tackled the highly invasive pest plant on more than 75 properties around Te Kaha and Whanarua Bay.

The East Cape hosts the largest tracts of coastal native forest in the North Island. Environment Bay of Plenty’s operations committee chairman, Bill Cleghorn, says these infestations threaten the area’s high biodiversity and landscape values. “We signed off the control programme because, without intervention, we realised the situation would eventually become unmanageable. It’s work that simply needs to be done – before it’s too late.”

Opotiki-based pest plant officer Tim Senior says local residents are strongly supporting the project. “They’re totally behind it, which is fantastic. With local help, we are confident of a successful outcome. Left unchecked, Kahili ginger can choke out the native plants and compromise the survival of the forest, so we’re averting a potential disaster.”

Wild ginger had spread steadily from original plantings along the coast to deep inside the bush. The result, which is already clearly visible in some places, is a forest canopy with an under-storey of pure ginger. This destruction of the natural process could eventually lead to the complete collapse of parts of the forest as old trees naturally die.

Wild ginger originated in the Himalayan foothills. Its prolific, bright red seeds are very attractive to birds so it quickly spread from gardens into bush areas and roadsides.

Kahili ginger is listed as one of the world’s top 100 invasive species.


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