Plan to tackle co­toneaster in­cur­sion

Waitaki Herald - - MEANWHILE, OUTSIDE AUCKLAND - MAX CROWE

Over the last 100 years the hills be­hind Ohau Vil­lage have been qui­etly in­vaded.

Co­toneaster is a spread­ing ever­green shrub with pale blue­green leaves and abun­dant scar­let ber­ries from Fe­bru­ary to August.

The plant was orig­i­nally used as hedg­ing or in gar­dens.

The plant’s ber­ries are highly at­trac­tive to birds that spread the plant around the landscape, and the plant it­self is very hardy and able to tol­er­ate a wide range of soils, shade, mois­ture and tem­per­a­ture.

In the wild it damages na­tive vege­ta­tion by over­top­ping and even­tu­ally re­plac­ing shrub species, pre­vent­ing the es­tab­lish­ment of other species apart from weedy vines.

Mem­bers of the Lake Ohau Con­ser­va­tion Trust have been aware of this prob­lem for some time.

The group is re­spon­si­ble for a re­cent suc­cess­ful ap­pli­ca­tion to the De­part­ment of Con­ser­va­tion (DOC) Com­mu­nity Fund.

This fund will be used over the next three years to spear­head a Co­toneaster erad­i­ca­tion project cover­ing the area from the Avoca ter­races along the base of the Ohau Range and along the Lake shore.

DOC and En­vi­ron­ment Can­ter­bury had also ded­i­cated funds to re­mov­ing co­toneaster from the top of the Ohau Basin.

Work­ing to­gether with the Waitaki District Coun­cil, who owns road re­serve land that is also in­fested with co­toneaster, the Trust, ECan and DOC hope to achieve the erad­i­ca­tion of co­toneaster.

The Trust is very pleased to be work­ing along­side the other agen­cies on this project in a co­or­di­nated ap­proach to rid­ding the area of this plant pest.

With­out ac­tion on co­toneaster erad­i­ca­tion now, the prob­lem will quickly be­come too large and con­tain­ment of spread and re­moval of iso­lated patches, rather than the aim of erad­i­ca­tion, would be the only prac­ti­cal op­tion.

As well as car­ry­ing out the con­trol work, the Lake Ohau Con­ser­va­tion Trust are also work­ing to in­form lo­cal land and sec­tion own­ers about the prob­lem with Co­toneaster and en­cour­age them to look in their own back yards for the pest plant.

They are also of­fer­ing free plants of more ap­pro­pri­ate na­tive species as a re­place­ment for any shrubs that are de­stroyed in do­mes­tic gar­dens. For more info on the Trust go to: www.ohau­con­ser­va­tion­trust.nz

The ever­green shrub or small tree orig­i­natied from China and the Hi­malayas.

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