Volunteers ridding Highbury suburb of Old Man’s Beard
A group of volunteers are on a mission to rid Wellington of Old Man’s Beard, a vine that smothers our New Zealand native bush.
Following on from their success in clearing Old Man’s Beard from several reserves, the Old Man’s Beard Free Wellington (OMBFW) group now plan to clear the vine from the suburb of Highbury. Old Man’s Beard (Clematis Vitalba) is a vine that spreads rapidly in the New Zealand climate, smothering our native bush.
Old Man’s Beard Free Wellington is a volunteer group set up to educate and engage the public in Old Man’s Beard identification, monitoring and control. Over the last few years, they have cleared several reserves of Old Man’s Beard and have advised residents on how to control Old Man’s Beard. The group now aims to rid the Highbury suburb of the vine, from the Zealandia Te Māra a Tāne fenceline down to Norway Street’s Backyard Bush Project.
Zealandia is the “jewel in the crown” of Wellington’s natural capital. Zealandia’s General Manager of Conservation and Restoration, Jo Ledington says the return of nature to Wellington’s backyards has been a massive cross-organisation and community effort over many years and the work being undertaken by OMB Free Wellington is yet another amazing example of how we can all play a part in making Wellington a haven for biodiversity.
Supporting the Zealandia ‘halo’, the Backyard Bush project includes 20 properties at Norway and Plunket Streets. Motivated by steep and largely inaccessible back yards, these neighbours collectively hired a professional restoration company to clear weeds and plant native bush. This work was conducted over a 2½ year period targeting more than 40 species of invasive plants and removal of non-native trees, resulting in a landscape that is totally transformed. This has benefitted native wildlife, increased neighbourliness, and greatly reduced ongoing maintenance. Jane Martin, Backyard Bush Founder, says “Clearing old man's beard from Highbury will reduce the chances of reinvasion of our most noxious weed species. This will reinforce the ‘halo’, protect the considerable work we’ve all put into our sections, and bring us closertogether as neighbours in this kaupapa.“
Clearing Highbury of Old Man’s Beard won’t be an easy task, and requires the support of the community. As well as clearing the large infestations along the Zealandia fenceline, the group will be working with residents to clear Old Man’s Beard from their properties. The seed bank for Old Man’s Beard lasts for about 10 years, so repeat visits will be necessary for years to come. Nigel Charman of Old Man’s Beard Free Wellington is optimistic about the work ahead “luckily we’ll be building on the systems used by groups such as STAMP in Auckland to work with the community to tackle these noxious environmental weeds”.
Old Man’s Beard Free Wellington (OMBFW) was formed in 2020 with the goal of engaging volunteers to progressively control old man’s beard across the capital. Wellington has close to 150 volunteer groups involved in “site-led” restoration of parks and reserves. OMBFW is “species-led” aiming to fill in the gaps in between the different site-led groups. Our broader goal is to engage residents in restoring the bush in their backyards and local road reserve areas.
News - https://www.facebook.com/ombfreewelly and https://www.instagram.com/ombfreewelly
Community control group - https://www.facebook.com/groups/ombfreewelly
Old Man’s Beard Free Wellington
027 673 7153