Oops – ministry recommended pest weeds for planting under Billion Tree plan

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has revised its list of species which can be planted for the Billion Tree programme after Forest and Bird drew attention to some plants suggested by the ministry being classified as weeds.

One of these was the Japanese spindle tree, which was banned by the ministry, according to a Radio New Zealand report today.

Forest and Bird said the oversight had the potential to undo countless volunteer hours and millions of dollars of rates and taxes spent on weed eradication.

The list also included Taiwan Cherry, which the Tasman District Council has been working to eradicate from its region.

Forest and Bird chief conservation advisor Kevin Hackwell said these weeds are not garden variety annoyances – “they are major threats to our native plants and the animals which rely on them”.

He said it was disappointing the ministry in charge of biosecurity and major weed eradication made this mistake.

The Radio NZ report said:

Other weeds on the list, but which were also on weeds awareness programme Weedbusters’ list include silver wattle, cherry laurel, douglas fir, strawberry tree and hawthorn.

The ministry acknowledged it may have included some trees in error and said it has re-reviewed its list, removing about a dozen species.

In May the government unveiled plans for the Billion Tree programme to be implemented over the next 10 years under the re-establishment of a state-owned forestry service.

The service was launched with an allocation of $15 million as part of an election campaign promise with New Zealand First.

Image credit: Australian National Botanic Gardens

Author: Bob Edlin

Editor of AgScience Magazine and Editor of the AgScience Blog

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