Greater Wellington Regional Council is urging the community to make good use of its free pest plant identification services in autumn by contacting the regional council if they spot a potential pest plant in their midst.
Under the Regional Pest Management Plan (RPMP), Greater Wellington hones in on a hit-list of pest plants dangerous to our region's environment and primary industries.
Greater Wellington will control the plants identified as a pest under the RPMP at no cost to landowners.
Plants not declared as pests in the RPMP, like pampas grass, are only controlled by the council in critically valuable areas but Greater Wellington will provide free identification and advice on how to control these pests.
Among the worst offenders listed in the RPMP are nassella tussock, Chilean needle grass, and alligator weed.
These three species do not currently exist in our region, but would cause massive damage if they were to take hold.
Greater Wellington has zero tolerance approach to these species and will identify and remove them free of charge.
The council is also asking people to keep an eye out for a group of pest plants that have already made their way into our region, and are especially easy to spot throughout autumn. These are Senegal tea, climbing spindleberry, velvetleaf and moth plant.
Greater Wellington's Environment Committee chairwoman Penny Gaylor said the work is critical because pest plants have the potential to devastate our region's ecosystem and economy.
"Pest plants threaten our native ecosystem and they threaten our agriculture. They can smother native plants, and quickly destroy precious waterways. They can be just as devastating as pest animals, so it's really important that we as a community understand what to look for and what to do if we spot these plants.
"The best way to do this is to become familiar with the worst culprits, and get in contact with Greater Wellington if you think you've spotted one of these."
This message is particularly important for people working on agricultural land, because pest plants can be moved between farms on vehicles and equipment.
If they take hold, they can reduce available grazing land and productivity, and make livestock sick.
Farmers and people who work outside should be extra vigilant and urgently call Greater Wellington for free advice and plant identification.
Councillor Gaylor stresses that keeping these pesky plants out of our region is a job for the whole community, but luckily it's a case of many hands making light work.
"Our dedicated biosecurity team is always monitoring for invasive species, but we can't be everywhere at once. That's why we rely on the community to let us know if they've noticed something suspicious, at which point we'll swoop in to help identify potential pests and provide advice on how to control them for free.
"If the pest is identified in the RPMP, we'll also eradicate it at no charge. I want to make it really clear that people shouldn't hesitate to contact us for advice if they spot something that shouldn't be there — it won't cost anything, and there's too much at stake if they don't."
People who think they have spotted one of the pest plants on the RPMP hit list should urgently contact email@example.com or 0800 496 734.
It's helpful if people take photos of the plant and make a precise note of the plant's location when calling in with a tip.
For more info on pest plants to look out for, head to: http://www.gw.govt.nz/pest-plants/