Aotea residents and visitors help tackle pest weed problem

A new initiative has been launched to educate and support weed control measures for Aotea / Great Barrier Island’s most problematic pest species.

Aotea is home to over 575 native plant varieties – a quarter of New Zealand’s diverse flora species. However, around 300 introduced species, some high-risk, pose a threat to our native treasures.

The initiative, Aotea High Risk Weeds, raises awareness of these pest weeds and shares information on possible weed control techniques.

“Our native ecosystem on the motu is special to all of us, and this is a great opportunity to help protect it,” says local board chair Izzy Fordham.
To take part in the new initiative, residents and visitors to the island are encouraged to join the project ‘Aotea High Risk Weeds’ on online platform iNaturalist to find a list of the plants we need to look out for. Participants can also record any weeds they find.

Auckland Council’s Natural Environment Delivery Islands team started surveying for these high-risk weeds on Aotea in 2011, and work is ongoing as part of the Natural Environment Targeted Rate. The iNaturalist project will help the team immensely with their ability to target these weeds.

“The data collected from weed surveillance helps us prioritise which weeds to manage before they become too widespread to control,” says senior conservation advisor Niklas Erikson.

“It’s extremely helpful that the community are jumping on board with the Aotea High Risk Weeds project to further our understanding of these high-risk species. We’re grateful for the locals who have taken the time to contribute so far.”

If a member of the public reports listed plants using iNaturalist on their property or on public land, Auckland Council will arrange for pest plant control using local contractors.

Removing a seedling by hand today will reduce the need for more intensive removal methods in the future.

Other ways to help:

It’s especially important on the motu that garden waste is disposed of responsibly. Locals should keep an eye out for weed amnesty days.

As an alternative to using iNaturalist, anyone can take a photo of a pest plant and email it along with a note of the location to