The Conservation Department is grateful for the volunteers it has but it needs lots more, community ranger Peter Lock says.

Yesterday the department held a thank-you lunch for Friends of Gordon Park volunteers at the Whanganui reserve, to mark Volunteer Week. About 10 from the group were there for a barbecue meal before they set to work potting up tiny plants.

Last year the removal of pink ragwort from Whitiau Scientific Reserve didn't happen, for the first time in years, because there were only three volunteers and only one day's work was done.

The department (DoC) is now looking to the Defence Force or Corrections Department for help.

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"We can't do it without the volunteers," Mr Lock said.

The same goes for the 14ha Gordon Park Scenic Reserve in No 3 Line.

"If it wasn't for the Friends of Gordon Park it wouldn't be getting the love that it is. These guys have a real passion for the area. We only get the funding for so much, and we can only do so much," Mr Lock said.

DoC staff do basic weed control at the reserve, but more is needed.

Friends of Gordon Park (FoGP) chairman Colin Ogle said the area of lowland forest was 10ha, with 4ha of scrub and pasture still to be converted to forest. Plants used will be sourced from local seed and the forest will differ slightly from the original, because the land is now drier.

The FoGP are forming a charitable trust, so they can get funding to pay contractors for work, and perhaps pay nurseries to grow seedlings on.

The group has about 20 members, with six to eight coming to twice-monthly work sessions.

There's plenty of other conservation work that needs doing, Mr Lock said.

Weeding at Whitiau, orchid monitoring at Lake Ihupuku and pest monitoring at Bushy Park are other possibilities.

DoC's policy of increased reliance on partnerships to get conservation work is relatively new, and Mr Lock is still hopeful about it. People wanting to volunteer can ring the department on 349 2100.

The Volunteer Week theme this year is "making time to volunteer".

Lack of time is the most common barrier to people doing voluntary work, DoC senior partnerships ranger Les Judd said. She and Mr Ogle made a list of ways people can volunteer at Gordon Park, depending on how much time they have.

-30 seconds - encourage friends and family to visit Gordon Park and get involved too

-5 minutes - do a 5-minute bird count

-15 minutes - pick up rubbish as you walk around the reserve

-A few hours - attend a half day work session with the volunteers

-Time at home - help write a Friends of Gordon Park news-letter

-A whole day - come to a community planting day

-Occasional time - grow on native seedlings, help out on a school visit, learn to monitor threatened plants