A unique result for Friends of Waiwhetū Stream
30 October 2020
Claiming eradication of a pest species is rare; claiming it for an aquatic pest plant is probably unique.
The community volunteer group Friends of Waiwhetū Stream, Lower Hutt have eradicated a South African plant, Cape pondweed, from Waiwhetū Stream. A small group of dedicated volunteers gave up their Sunday afternoons every fortnight for nearly three years to manually dig it out of nearly four kilometres of stream bed. It had been present for about 100 yrs causing accumulation of sediment, slowing stream flows and other negative ecological impacts on water quality.
All aspects involving the Cape pondweed removal initiative were done by volunteers, starting with scientific research into its reproductive biology and growth habit, and establishing a removal/eradication strategy based on the results.
Between 2011 and 2014, approximately 350,000 individual plants were removed from the entire infested stream bed along with large volumes of rubbish. Bi-annual patrols continued to remove extant plants with numbers reducing from 145 in 2015 to five in 2018 and none for more than 12 months.
In addition, more than 30,000 eco-sourced native plants have been planted along the stream banks. Volunteers have created a ‘living’ legacy for future generations.
Support with rubbish removal, gear and plants were provided by Greater Wellington Regional Council and Hutt City Council.