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Published: 2003-09-12 00:00:00

A nation-wide pest plant awareness programme called Weedbusters begins in the Waikato next month.

Biosecurity Plant Pest contractor Carolyn Lewis told this week’s Biosecurity Committee that Weedbusters aims to increase awareness, achieve a ten-fold increase in the number of people involved in battling weeds, reduce the number of plant species becoming established and share resources amongst agencies involved in weed control work.

The aim of the programme, which already operated successfully in Australia, was to create a nation of weedbusters where all New Zealanders were aware of and took action to protect the environment from weeds and pest plants.

Weedbusters regions will be set up to align with regional council boundaries and include the regional council, DoC and any interested territorial authorities, managed by a Weedbusters Co-ordinator. The groups would inspire local people to participate in activities and develop local priorities for weed education.

Groups which are likely to participate include the Biosecurity Managers Group, New Zealand Biosecurity Institute, MAF, DoC, the Nursery and Gardening Industry Association, Landcare Trust and Federated Farmers.

The programme will be officially launched in Wellington on October 14 as New Zealand’s first inter agency programme co-ordinating on-the-ground action to stop the spread of invasive weeds.

Cr Evan Penny said the idea was an excellent one, especially in urban areas where it was difficult to get a response to weed problems.

Chairman Helen Lane said Weedbusters was another tool to help deal with plant pests. It was not the complete answer but would promote huge awareness and hopefully lead to development of an education programme about plant pests.