By Katie Clark, DOC Whangarei.
It is truly rewarding to be able to spend time with enthusiastic dedicated members of the public, take them out, and show them what we do as rangers. I love making a connection to the local community and watch as people make connections to some of Northland’s beautiful natural places – our Whangarei Volunteer Day was no exception.
I began May 18 by meeting six eager volunteers who were ready to pitch in for their community.
One of our volunteers, Alison has been volunteering with DOC since 2012, with other ‘stronghold volunteers’ participating for over two years. On this day, we had two newer volunteers join our ranks. Kathleen had volunteered with us once before, but for Andrew, this was his first time volunteering with the Department. I was impressed that he had travelled all the way from Waiotira to be with us.
We drove to Urquharts Bay in Whangarei Heads for a day spent weeding and releasing plants. We met up with another group of volunteers from the Bream Head Conservation Trust. Urquharts Bay is part of the Bream Head Scenic Reserve. The Reserve is classified as an outstanding ecosystem that supports a diversity of species and contains unique historical features. Though he is a local, Andrew had never been to Urquharts Bay. It was great to see his reactions to this beautiful place throughout the day.
Some of the most important work we did that day was to remove as much of the introduced convolvulous from the area. Convolvulous, a type of bindweed or climber (a climber with large white flowers) can strangle other plants in order to survive, so it’s important to control it in order to let native plants thrive. There is also a native bindweed in the area called Calystegia tuguriorum, which is not aggressive but has a similar form to the introduced convolvulous, so it’s important to check that you have identified your plants correctly before you undertake control. We also released native plants from the grip of kikuyu grass, a noxious foreign weed.
Part of the DOC volunteer program is to educate the public, and that day I was able to talk to both groups of volunteers about local habitats, the different types of weeds we would encounter, and why it’s important to remove the weeds in order to maintain our native ecosystems.
Unfortunately, we had to cut the day short when a rainstorm blew in. Rain may be good for plants, but it isn’t great for people!
War on Weeds
Hundreds of invasive weeds are smothering our native forests, wetlands and coastal areas, harming our wildlife and transforming our natural landscapes. Help us fight the War on Weeds. More information on the control of greater bindweed can be found here.