Two Hamilton conservation groups and a Kawhia man have won Waikato Weedbusters awards this year.
The winners received their awards from Environment Waikato regional pest management committee deputy chair Laurie Burdett and Department of Conservation representative Brigid Isaac at Environment Waikato’s council meeting in Hamilton last week.
Friends of Barrett Bush, which has been working since 1984 to restore a remnant stand of kahikatea on a Department of Conservation reserve west of Hamilton, won this year’s overall award.
The group has fenced the bush, created wetlands, removed weeds and raised money to buy an adjacent paddock, where it has planted native trees.
Spokesperson Warren Stace said the Weedbusters award was a “great achievement” for his group and thanked the Honda Tree Trust for supplying native trees.
The Jubilee Bush Care Group, which is working to protect kahikatea trees in Jubilee Bush in Claudelands, Hamilton, was runner-up.
Spokesperson Katherine Hay thanked the group’s members and supporters, including Weedbusters, Hamilton City Council and Environment Waikato.
Kawhia man John (JD) Dodgson was also honoured with a special commendation for more than 20 years of weed work.
Described as “weeds’ worst enemy”, Mr Dodgson formerly worked for the Department of Conservation leading a weed team. He is a current member of the Biosecurity Institute of New Zealand the Kawhia Harbour Protection Society and gives hours of volunteer time helping to educate local people about weeds.
“It’s a great pleasure to be able to accept something like this, but you can’t do it on your own,” Mr Dodgson said.
He thanked everyone who had supported him, particularly his wife.
Cr Burdett acknowledged the passion and dedication of all groups working to control weeds, which are one of the biggest threats to New Zealand’s natural environment.
“They are our region’s unsung environmental heroes, giving so generously of their time and knowledge,” she said.
“Weeding may not be glamorous, but the work they do makes a real difference.”