It was pleasing for the Dunedin Amenities Society to see the recent enforcement action taken by the Otago Regional Council on private properties with infestations of Old Man’s Beard in Dunedin. This work is well beyond due from the Otago Regional Council as it grapples with the enforcement and implementation of its Pest Management Strategy.
In 2008 the Society mapped 180 sites of this weed on private properties adjacent to the Town Belt Reserve and presented that information to ORC staff. The Society presented that same information to the Otago Regional Council’s 2011 Annual Plan so that action would be taken for the protection of the Town Belt. After all, it is fruitless for the Dunedin City Council to spend ratepayers funding on weed eradication in the ‘Belt if the available seed source on private properties is not removed also.
It is hoped that the Regional Council will continue its good work and make further progress on problematic areas such as Serpentine Avenue, Mclaggan St and the areas between George St and Queen Streets. Hopefully too, they have removed the Old Man’s Beard growing in their Stafford Street car-park and highlighted by the Society in its 2011 submission.
This weed is a serious threat to Dunedin’s native forest landscape and needs urgent continued vigilance to contain and eradicate it from our city.
The German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche wrote ” the surest sign that two people no longer speak the same language is that both say ironic things to one another but that neither senses the irony.“
If Nietzsche had been attending the Otago Regional Council Annual Plan hearings last week he would have seen how prophetic his words really were. The Society submitted that the Council’s failure to enforce the provisions of the Pest Plant Management Strategy and the provisions of the Biosecurity Act in Dunedin City is seriously affecting the city’s’ reserves and our biodiversity. Not only is the Otago Regional Council not speaking the same language as the Otago community, but it failed to understand the irony of the Dunedin Amenities Society’s’ submission.
In 2008 the Society identified and mapped 180 sites of Old Mans Beard on private property adjacent to the Town Belt, and presented that information to the Council for enforcement. After three years of inaction that information was presented to the Councillors again in the 2011 Annual Plan. The irony of the presentation is that from within the Otago Regional Council car park a large flowering sample of Old Mans Beard was taken to this years Annual Plan and presented to the Councillors. To find such a virulent pest plant in the car park of the very organisation that is charged with the management of this weed speaks volumes for an organisation that is failing our community and our environment.
The Dunedin Amenities Society does not place the blame for this on Council staff, but on Council management and Councillors who are failing to resource their staff appropriately to take action. The other bitter irony is that the Dunedin City Council pays thousands of ratepayers dollars in controlling this weed species on our parks and reserves. Yet there is every likelihood that such work is futile because the Regional Council will not enforce its own Pest Plant Strategy on adjacent private land and the controlled sites become reinfested after each flowering year. The Dunedin Amenities Society says its time that the Otago Regional Council began speaking the same language as our city and its community and show our region that it has the capacity to act appropriately.
After a year of waiting the society finally received information from the Otago Regional Council on their programme of works for this problem in the City. While the programme seeks compliance the Society will keep a weather eye on this issue and the performance of the Council.
The Society has completed the mapping of the Old Man’s Beard (Clematis vitalba) vine in the areas adjacent to the Town Belt. What it has found is disturbing with nearly 200 sites in and around the Belt. Old Man’s Beard (Clematis vitalba) is a significant threat to the health of the Town Belt and its forest composition. Its prolific seed production make it a very serious pest plant and one thats needs eradication from public and private land. The Society has approached the Otago Regional and Dunedin City Councils to investigate the properties and get an effective control programme in place for these areas. Private landowners have a part to play in eradicating this plant from their property. The Society will await the actions of both Councils with interest as to how they approach this issue. Old man’s beard map (PDF)