The Whau River Catchment Trust (WRCT) is an umbrella organisation for Friends of the Whau, a group working towards healthier streams along the Whau River through community participation and kaitiakitanga (guardianship and protection). They deliver a wide range of community-based ecological restoration projects, in collaboration with the Auckland Council and other key stakeholders within the Whau River catchment. Their ethos is all about having fun whilst delivering great environmental outputs.
The Friends are working to restore a 1.5km long walkway by planting native species along the Whau River. However, a hindrance to the young plants is a massive, invasive exotic grass, Arundo donax, which can grow to 5m high. If cut and left, this bamboo-like grass will sprout again and keep on growing, so it needs to be removed from the site. Biocontrol is being trialled using scale insects to knock this annoying species back.
Fortunately, however, what is for some a noxious weed is sometimes another’s favourite food – in this case Auckland Zoo’s two elephants, Burma and Anjalee. A mutually beneficial arrangement has been formed between Friends of the Whau and the Zoo, whereby the grass is cut on Thursdays and then dropped at a spot from where the zoo’s ‘browse team’ can then easily pick it up the following day.
The group were lucky to have two great teams from Singapore Airlines out to help in June. They helped to cut down more Arundo donax, and got stuck into removing Madeira vine and planting up some light-wells. They were a lot of fun to work with and the Friends hope to get them back out soon.
FOTW need more volunteers to help cut down the grass (with loppers) and there are lots of other nearby conservation tasks they can keep them busy at too. If you or your workplace would like to do some satisfying volunteer work outdoors, and help feed elephants and control exotic weeds at the same time, get in touch with Sandra on 021 295 0302 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks to EcoMatters’ ‘Love Your Neighbourhood’ fund, supported by the Whau Local Board, who supplied the loppers to make this work possible.