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Source: Auckland Council

Auckland is one of the weediest cities in the world. Our temperate climate makes us particularly vulnerable to weeds.

One of the council’s responsibilities is to manage weeds and edges on footpaths, berms and the kerb and channel in the urban road corridor. The council has been managing weeds in the urban road corridor on behalf of Auckland Transport, since 2019 as part of project streetscape.

General Manager Community Facilities Rod Sheridan says the current approaches to weed management on hard surfaces within the road corridor differ by location across Auckland, reflecting the continuation of legacy council approaches prior to amalgamation.

“Edging and weed control is managed in many ways – plant-based or synthetic herbicides to combinations with hot water and steam – across local board areas and in some cases within local board areas.

“We are currently undertaking a review to examine our methodologies, particularly how we deliver weed control, to come up with a proposal that offers an effective and consistent approach – that supports regional equality – and has the ability to adjust for local needs.

“As we have signaled for many years, we are also committed to reducing our use of synthetic herbicides like glyphosate.

“No changes or decisions have yet been made,” says Mr Sheridan. “We are currently meeting with all local boards to present our findings on current methodologies and to seek their feedback on a standardised approach to weed management across the region.”

Review process for regional approach to weed management

As part of the regional review[1], the council has looked at methodologies, including synthetic herbicide[2] (glyphosate), plant-based herbicides and thermal approaches (steam, hot water, foam).

There are currently only three local boards that are not using glyphosate for hard surfaces in the road corridor (this does not include pest plant control): Albert-Eden, Puketapapa and part of Waitemata.

The proposed recommendation for local board review is for a combination of plant-based herbicide with spot spraying of glyphosate for difficult to manage weeds. 

This is estimated to lead to a reduction in glyphosate, carbon emissions and water usage across the region while achieving effective control. The recommendation is expected to be achievable within existing budgets.

The evaluation criteria for the review’s recommendations include environmental impacts, community input, the council’s commitment to reduce carbon emissions in Te Tāruke-ā-Tāwhiri: Auckland’s Climate Plan and the objectives of the council weed management policy for effective, efficient, and sustainable outcomes.

One of the considerations of review is feedback from the 2019 People’s Panel. A survey, with 5686 respondents, was carried out. Sixty-six per cent stated that they ‘care’ about the weeds on our footpaths and kerbs.

The results showed that 43 per cent of residents use synthetic herbicide (e.g. glyphosate) for weed management on their own property. Synthetic herbicide (e.g. glyphosate) was the least preferred method for weed management in the road corridor by 52 per cent of respondents.

Read a copy of the report that is being considered by all 19 local boards here.  

Next steps

As part of the review local boards are providing feedback on the recommended approach to weed management in the kerb and channel and footpaths, and to rank their priorities for weed management in the road corridor.

Once the feedback is received, it will be collated and included in a report to the Environment and Climate Change Committee on 12 November 2020. There will be opportunity for input from groups to present at the Environment and Climate change committee.

There is no change proposed or being discussed about weed management at our parks and reserves.

No spray register

Auckland Council has a no-spray register, which anyone can join to opt-out of weed control with agrichemicals on the berm or park boundary of your property.

[1] The scope of the review and recommendations is only for the urban road corridor and does not include rural areas. This reflects the differences in population, roading infrastructure and land use in rural areas. Waiheke and Aotea Local Boards are not included as they are not part of Project Streetscapes (which did not include the Hauraki Gulf Islands).

[2] Auckland Council’s agrichemical use is guided by the New Zealand Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in their role as the regulator of hazardous substances in New Zealand. The EPA gathers information from multiple credible sources when deciding whether substances are safe to use. The EPA has granted approval for the use of glyphosate-containing substances in accordance with the EPA code of practice. Should the EPA change their position on glyphosate, the council would respond appropriately.