At the Council, we're often asked what the difference is between a weed and a pest plant – and what we’re doing about them.
A weed is simply any plant that is in the wrong place, so there are thousands of them out there. They can range from the relatively harmless little weeds in your vege patch to more invasive weeds such as tradescantia (wandering willie) and woolly nightshade.
Pest plants are those Taranaki Regional Council has identified as being the most significant in terms of their ability to become widespread and their potential impact on agriculture and the environment. The Council itself undertakes control on some of those, while land occupiers are legally obliged to control the rest.
Why are we talking about this now? Well, spring is a great time to check for pest plants on your property, as some of the worst offenders will now be blooming and easily visible. Urban residents should keep an eye out for ginger and Old Man’s Beard in particular while in rural areas giant gunnera and ragwort are also a concern.
An important part of our role is to educate and advise locals around identifying and controlling pest plants. We’ll enforce the rules if we need to, but we find most Taranaki people are willing to play their part in protecting our unique ecosystems.
When it comes to weeds, we work closely with Weedbusters and local community groups to help raise awareness of what different weeds are, why they’re unwanted and what we can all do about it. We even have our own Weed Wizard in the team – if you haven’t seen his videos, check them out on the Council’s Facebook page.(external link)