In 2017 the Department of Conservation made available funding for community groups to undertake local weed control. SIRCET was successful in receiving funds and partnered with Environment Southland to deliver the work.
We concentrated on Darwin’s Barberry and included some of the other Dirty Dozen weeds – Banana passionfruit, Japanese honeysuckle, Buddleia and Old man’s beard. The area covered was around the township, from Main Road over to Golden Bay, and through to Kaka Ridge Road.
Originally from South America, this weed was likely introduced to Stewart Island as a good hedging plant. Its rapid growth and prickly leaves make it ideal for this. Plants mature in three to four years and produce many seeds that are dispersed widely by birds. With its ability to grow rapidly, a liking for our weather conditions and being able to thrive in the bush it poses a serious threat to the integrity of our native forest.
To control barberry the most effective method is to grid search with a team of people and remove every single Barberry plant. Each person carries a GPS so we can plot exactly where they walked and mark every plant they remove. Every landowner has to be contacted and permission sought to access their land. Any areas left unsearched will potentially result in Barberry plants still being left to spread seeds.
For September and October 2017, we had a great team of staff, out there five days a week, come rain or shine. And there was a lot more rain that shine! The team had a lot of fun, learnt some new skills and got up close to our native forest. And they achieved the target they were set, an awesome effort!
Eighty Hectares were grid searched over two months and the team removed 261 adult barberry, 1760 Juvenile plants and 527 seedlings. 146 Landowners were contacted and 134 gave permission for the team to access their land, a fantastic result.
Follow up to prevent Barberry gaining a hold again will be needed and we ask all landowners to help in this, please remove all Barberry when you see it!