It’s time to sweep away broom in the Wakatipu.
Mountain Scene has taken to the air so readers can see for themselves the spread of the highly invasive pest, with bright yellow flowers spreading over some of the Basin’s most prominent hillsides.
Queenstown businessman Peter Faul – who recently stood unsuccessfully for council and has an environmental bent – paid for the flight.
He says broom’s almost out of control in places and he’s calling for action – two years after he was ignored by the council under Vanessa van Uden’s mayoralty.
“We’ve got to get on top of it,” he says.
“We put a high value on our environment and its visual amenity and we’re letting it go; we’re neglecting it.”
There needs to be a district-wide response, Faul says, involving landowners, councils and agencies like the Department of Conservation. He says it might be cheaper if they band together for aerial spraying.
“Those people who have got it growing on their property need to address it,” he thunders.
New district councillor Penny Clark, who was on the Over The Top flight, says her council has to lead the charge.
“You’ve just got to look at little areas that we’ve been over today to see how easy it is to take off.
“If we just forget about this for a few years it’s going to be even worse.”
Queenstown council enforcement supremo Anthony Hall says it’s unsurprising to see broom crawling up river margins and steep slopes. He’s not sure if it ranks highly in discussions between his council and the Otago Regional Council.
“There’s a lot of parties that probably need to work together to get on top of this.”
Pest-buster Faul seems to be ruffling feathers already – the regional council did its own gorse and broom monitoring flight in the Wakatipu on Tuesday.
The council’s monitoring boss Scott MacLean says the council’s “by and large” satisfied that the majority of landowners have control programmes in place.
In an emailed statement he says: “There are places, such as near Macetown, where this is not the case and where we are reinforcing the need for landowners to put control programmes in place.”
MacLean says pest control’s primarily the responsibility of landowners.
Under the regional council’s pest strategy, large tracts of land in the Queenstown Lakes are gorse- and broom-free.
Broom grows up to three metres tall and mature plants can spew out up to 18,000 seeds a year.