Working to eradicate spartina from Canterbury

The fight to eradicate damaging plant pest spartina from the region continues.

In 2017, Environment Canterbury was granted funding from the Department of Conservation (DoC) for a project to survey and control plant pest spartina (spartina anglica) around Christchurch.

The funding is part of DoC’s War on Weeds campaign, bringing together councils, community groups, landowners and iwi to tackle invasive wees where they threaten native habitats.

Principal resource management advisor biosecurity Laurence Smith said that Environment Canterbury has been working in partnership with DoC and Christchurch City Council (CCC) to carry out extensive surveys of areas where spartina is known to occur.

“We surveyed over 1,400 hectares of land, and found 78 patches of spartina, covering 160sqm. Control work was then carried out to kill all plants found,” he said.

“Our team will continue to work together with DoC and CCC towards a long-term goal of eradicating spartina from Canterbury.”

Why is spartina considered a pest plant?

Spartina is a damaging weed that colonises inter-tidal zones, where it forms dense clumps and traps sediment. Infestations of spartina can cause immense loss of biodiversity by turning mudflats that support wading birds, whitebait, eel, and flounder, into dry meadows.

Spartina is known to be present in Canterbury in three locations: Brooklands Lagoon, the Avon-Heathcote Estuary and Lyttelton Harbour. It is widespread, but in low densities, throughout the South Island. 

Learn more

Read more about spartina on our managing plant pests page.

You can record suspected sightings of spartina on the Join the Spartina Hunt project page.