The Wharekawa Catchment Care Group spearheads one of the Coromandel Peninsula’s most successful weed eradication ventures. Their efforts have now won them a prestigious Weedbusters “Education Award”, recognising the group’s weed management initiatives and their significant contribution toward raising education and awareness of weeds amongst the local community.
Coromandel Peninsula is renowned internationally for its native bush and coastal areas, but it is also one of the weediest districts in the country. Exotic weeds compete with native species, leading to loss of bush and wetland areas and subsequent loss of habitat for native animals. The care group, which comprises of landowners and residents living around Wharekawa Harbour just north of Whangamata, has implemented a comprehensive management plan that is targeting all unwanted weed species present within the catchment area.
River and stream banks have been targeted for extensive weed control, and several riparian areas of the Wharekawa River have now been retired, fenced off and replanted with natives following control work. Members have also carried out weed control on road reserve areas and Department of Conservation land, taking it on themselves to tackle troublesome weeds such as blue morning glory, wilding pine and blackberry.
The group prioritises education, making information and promotional material available to members and the local community with a view to stopping new weed incursions before they become a bigger problem. The local community board is always stocked with poster-size weed factsheets.
The group also runs a ‘weed stall’ at local markets to provide information and increase awareness, and they have run a weed swap at the local community hall, where locals could bring their weeds for disposal and swap them for native plants supplied by Waikato Regional Council.
The Wharekawa Catchment Care Group was formed in 2005, and works both independently and in partnership with local councils, forestry companies, roading contractors and the Department of Conservation.