19 Jan 2012

Changes to banned plant list proposed

6:33 pm on 19 January 2012

Possible changes to which plants are included on the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry's pest plant accord has environmentalists concerned about an increase in noxious weeds.

The accord governs which plants can legally be sold and is based on how damaging they are to native areas throughout New Zealand.

Suggestions include taking the invasive weed Old Man's Beard off the National Pest Plant Accord, and adding agapanthus.

The ministry's pests and pathways manager, John Randall, says nearly 100 people have so far made submissions on the accord.

He says there have been passionate views on plants like agapanthus, which some people love and others hate.

Mr Randall says one criteria for excluding a plant from the list is the likelihood of it being sold to consumers, and it is highly unlikely that Old Man's Beard will ever be on sale at garden centres.

MAF says regional councils will continue to get rid of the plant.

However, environmental consultant Alan Liefting is alarmed at the prospect of the removal of Old Man's Beard from the accord.

He said if it was sold it would be spread further, putting at risk the good work of volunteers and the millions of dollars spent on its control.

The Weedbusters group says agapanthus were brought in as a decorative plant, but have slowly become invasive.