6 March 2008
The hunt is on for groups, organisations, schools and individuals tackling weed issues in their communities for nomination for the 2008 Regional Weedbusters Awards.
The awards recognise the efforts of those who get stuck in and deal with weed issues in their communities in a voluntary capacity. The awards were launched nationwide in 2006, with over 60 nominations that year.
"We were stunned with the number and calibre of weedbusters who were nominated last time around," says National Weedbusters Coordinator Carolyn Lewis.
"It was quite humbling to see how many people were volunteering their own time in their own communities tackling weed issues."
Invasive plant species damaging the environment are a major issue in New Zealand, with most weed species having been ornamental garden species that 'jumped the fence' and established in natural areas, crowding out native species and destroying habitats.
"Weedbusting is often part of a bigger restoration project being undertaken in areas such as bush, sand dunes or wetlands, and it is often viewed as the least glamorous part of the work," Ms Lewis says.
"The irony is that this 'least glamorous' work often is the key to the success of the restoration programme overall."
Weedbusting efforts around New Zealand over the last few years have ranged from individuals working on their own properties to remove weedy species, to groups adopting natural areas such as bush remnants or wetlands and removing all weed species in that area.
Joint efforts are often the most successful, with community volunteers working with schools, businesses and local councils to tackle weed issues.
"Many regional council and Department of Conservation staff have also given up their weekends to lend a helping hand," Ms Lewis says.
There will be five categories for the Weedbusters awards, all recognising weedbuster efforts: public land, private land, industry/organisation, education, and overall excellence chosen from the previous four categories.
Full award details and nomination forms are online at www.weedbusters.org.nz. Nominations can be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org before 31 March 2008.
Weedbusters is an interagency programme supported by the Department of Conservation, Biosecurity New Zealand, Federated Farmers, Biodiversity New Zealand, NZ Landcare Trust, Nursery and Garden Industry Association, NZ Biosecurity Institute, NZ Plant Protection Society, and all unitary and regional councils in New Zealand.
More information about Weedbusters is available on www.weedbusters.org.nz