Landowners crucial to fight Old Man's Beard

Ongoing vigilance by landowners and urban residents is required to help control an aggressive pest plant threatening streamside planting and biodiversity in the region, Taranaki Regional Council says.

TRC Environment Services Manager Steve Ellis says Old Man’s Beard poses a significant threat to riparian planting along steams and rivers, and indigenous biodiversity, with the potential to infest most lowland forest across the region.

He reminded all residents they needed to destroy Old Man’s Beard on their property, as required under Taranaki’s Pest Management Strategy. There are some exemptions on land within 50 metres of the Waingongoro and Patea Rivers due to highly infested areas.

However, these will be lifted once control operations in these areas successfully reduce the pest plant to low levels.

A control operation targeting Old Man’s Beard along South Taranaki’s Waingongoro River, is underway with the next phase starting in November this year. It follows a successful control operation along 30km of the Kaupokonui River in 2012. This operation will expand to the the Patea River, but a start date and area to be covered has yet to be defined.

Contractors will work along 16km of the Waingongoro River in Eltham, from Finnerty to Stuart Road, over summer 2017/2018. Different control techniques will be used including herbicide sprays, but any chemicals used will be at approved concentrations, along with cutting and pasting vines. The type of technique will be discussed with the occupier or landowner before it begins, Mr Ellis says. The Waingongoro operation will run until February 2018, with a possible follow up in November 2018.

TRC and Department of Conservation (DOC) funding will meet all costs of the initial control operations. The control operation aims to emulate the success of the Council’s Self Help Possum Control Programme.

“Controlling this damaging climber is crucial if we are to protect our valuable biodiversity and maintain the hard work by Taranaki farmers, on the regions award winning riparian programme.

“Landowners continuing to look after their own backyard is our best chance of beating this weed and taking Taranaki forward.  Mr Ellis says.

The Council provides technical advice and education to land occupiers and owners, undertakes property inspections, compliance monitoring and, when necessary, enforcement action to eliminate the pest plant.