Saturday, December 2, 2023

Catchment group plucks 1400ha of Old Man’s Beard

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Smothering vine cleared from 1400ha in Rangitīkei project.
The Halcombe catchment group inspects riparian planting.
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Rangitīkei Rivers Catchment Collective has successfully completed a two-and-a-half-year Environmental Restoration Project that removed 1400ha of Old Man’s Beard and planted 25,000 native trees and poplars in Rangitīkei. 

RRCC is a farmer-led collective of rural residents and farm owners working to protect the environment and enhance biodiversity in the Rangitīkei, Turakina and Whangaehu river catchments.  

Its main focus is bringing rural communities together, gathering environmental data, and closing the knowledge gap so farm businesses continue to grow and thrive as they strive to get ahead of societies expectations.  

With the support of member subscriptions and Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) funding RRCC undertakes monthly water quality monitoring at 88 sites across its 700,000ha catchment.

“Since 2018, RRCC have built a significant regional dataset of water quality monitoring, which substantially outnumbers regional council monitoring. Three to five years of data has been collected from nine of our 22 sub-catchment groups, and this will continue to grow year on year,” Louise Totman, RRCC catchment coordinator, said.  

In the past two years RRCC has successfully delivered 56 workshops and undertaken a number of projects, including the Environmental Restoration project, which was funded from a grant awarded in 2020 to RRCC by MPI.  

Old Man’s Beard grows where there is no threat of it being eaten, such as road and rail corridors, retired farmland and fenced riparian edges. 

It is an aggressive, fast-growing vine that spreads quickly through forest canopies by forming a tangled, smothering mass over other vegetation and trees.

This map shows areas where Old Man’s Beard has been removed.

“We really made a difference on properties where landowners are fighting to keep the weed from spreading,” RRCC committee member and project sponsor Ruth Rainey said.  

RRCC contracted the services of the Rangitīkei Environment Group (REG), Rangitikei Helicopters, AgDrone and Dronezup to remove the weed.  The funding doubled the capacity of REG, which has been providing weed control services for over 20 years in Rangitikei.   Preserving valuable areas of indigenous/native bush is important for providing habitat for indigenous plants and wildlife, shade and shelter for stock, stabilising soil, and enhancing the landscape. 

“With lots of riparian planting and land retirement happening on farms, it is critical that the growth and spread of the unwanted weed is controlled to stop it spreading into newly planted and retired areas of native trees as well as our valuable stock of indigenous forest remnants,” RRCC chair Roger Dalrymple said. 

Horizons Regional Council has pledged $15,000 to RRCC to extend its Environmental Restoration Project to June 2024 to help control the bearded weed in private indigenous/native bush.

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