OMB Free News

Clearing Highbury from Zealandia fenceline to Backyard Bush Project

Our focus for 2023-2024 is to rid the Highbury suburb of OMB, from the Zealandia Te Māra a Tāne fenceline down to Norway Street’s Backyard Bush Project.

Zealandia is the “jewel in the crown” of Wellington’s natural capital. Zealandia’s General Manager of Conservation and Restoration, Jo Ledington says the return of nature to Wellington’s backyards has been a massive cross-organisation and community effort over many years and the work being undertaken by OMB Free Wellington is yet another amazing example of how we can all play a part in making Wellington a haven for biodiversity.

Supporting the Zealandia ‘halo’, the Backyard Bush project includes 20 properties at Norway and Plunket Streets. Motivated by steep and largely inaccessible back yards, these neighbours collectively hired a professional restoration company to clear weeds and plant native bush. This work was conducted over a 2½ year period targeting more than 40 species of invasive plants and removal of non-native trees, resulting in a landscape that is totally transformed. This has benefitted native wildlife, increased neighbourliness, and greatly reduced ongoing maintenance. Jane Martin, Backyard Bush Founder, says “Clearing old man's beard from Highbury will reduce the chances of reinvasion of our most noxious weed species. This will reinforce the ‘halo’, protect the considerable work we’ve all put into our sections, and bring us closer together as neighbours in this kaupapa.“

Clearing Highbury of Old Man’s Beard won’t be an easy task, and requires the support of the community. As well as clearing the large infestations along the Zealandia fenceline, the group will be working with residents to clear Old Man’s Beard from their properties. The seed bank for Old Man’s Beard lasts for about 10 years, so repeat visits will be necessary for years to come. Nigel Charman of Old Man’s Beard Free Wellington is optimistic about the work ahead “luckily we’ll be building on the systems used by groups such as STAMP in Auckland to work with the community to tackle these noxious environmental weeds”.

Listen to our chat with Jesse Mulligan on Radio NZ about this initiative.

Map showing proposed control area

Draft proposed old man’s beard control area

Old man’s beard smothering bush near Zealandia 

OMB Status Map now available

Thanks to all of you who have reported OMB on iNaturalist, we now have over 3,000 observations! With the seeds being viable for 10 years, we need to continue checking these OMB patches for 10 years after they were last controlled.

Managing all of these OMB patches needs a solution that tracks the status of each patch over time. That's where the CAMS weed app comes in. It's already in use for similar weed management by STAMP (Society Totally Against Moth Plant) and other groups around New Zealand.

The app resets the status of each weed annually, then as you update each weed status, it changes colour (and shape) to show the current status. This allows everyone to clearly see what's been tackled and what needs doing.

It's a lot of fun to use, kind of like a cross between Pokémon Go and weed spotting!

We've extended this app to synchronise data from iNaturalist and to allow you to update the weed status in iNaturalist. The 3,000+ observations have been synchronised and we've started updating them.

Open it in your browser here.

Or install it on your device, this will install the ArcGIS Field Maps app and open the CAMS Weed App map. After installing, the map will open by default when you open Field Maps.

See our user guide for how to update the status in iNaturalist so it is reflected in CAMS.

"OMB-Free" Reserves

For the 2022-2023 OMB season, we are aiming to make a number of reserves "OMB Free", ie all known OMB is cleared. In future years, we're hoping to create "halos" around these reserves to reduce the risk of reinvasion as well as ongoing monitoring. The current status is:

"OMB Free"

Largely "OMB Free", aiming to complete soon

Partly controlled this year

Deferred until next year


We've also started using Glimax as our herbicide this year. Glimax is a high strength Glyphosate, which has the advantage over Picloram that it breaks down quickly in the soil and does not affect neighbouring plants.