October 1, 2008

Weed Removal Earns Reward

By BUNTING, Finbarr

Weeds may not be sexy, but as any environmentalist will tell you they can do as much damage to the natural environment as any crawly critters.

The hard work and dedication of Friends of Barrett Bush volunteers has seen them made this year's recipient of the Weedbuster Awards.

The Weedbuster Awards were set up in 2006 to recognise the dedication of volunteers in improving the environment and raising awareness of the damage weeds can cause.

Wendy Mead, bio-security officer at Environment Waikato, said weeds were recognised as the biggest threat to biodiversity after habitat loss.

Mrs Mead said the Weedbuster awards recognised those who otherwise went unrecognised.

The Friends of Barrett Bush are a group of 10 to 12 people which takes its name from a 5ha forest of kahikatea at Koramatua, southwest of Hamilton.

Group member Warren Stace said the group was "really chuffed" to have won and the award had inspired members with future projects such as building a walking track and perhaps even a public toilet.

Mr Stace said the group was started in 1989 to overcome weeds and allow native species to blossom.

"We just grind our teeth and get stuck in, rain or shine," Mr Stace said.

The forest area is owned by Doc but was neglected and fast becoming overrun by privet, blackberry and convolvulus which caught the volunteers' notice. They removed as much as they and laid some seeds down for future growth.

The Friends of Barrett Bush fund- raised to buy an extra two hectares of the forest, and were supported with funding from Environment Waikato.

The other award nominees from the Waikato region were Lake Koramatua Care Group, John Dodgson, Jubilee Care Group and Yellow Bristle Grass Action Group.

Finbarr Bunting is an AUT journalism student.

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