Norfolk Island Conservation Volunteers (NICV) was formed in July 2020 under the auspices of the Norfolk Island Flora & Fauna Society Inc., and with the support of Norfolk Island Regional Council and Norfolk Island National Park.
The Coral Berry Crusade
The first NICV project, and the only project to date, has been tackling a heavy infestation of the very invasive coral berry (Rivina humilis) in 100 Acres Reserve. This South American native had established itself in the reserve over many years, and had become the dominant ground cover. Quick-growing and with numerous very hardy seeds produced per plant, its dominance was affecting other native ground cover, and also the slower growing seedlings of native trees and bushes, out-competing them for space, light, water and nutrients.
In its first year, NICV was able to make one full sweep through the reserve and was well into its second or in some spots, third sweep, aiming to catch the coral berry before fruiting and thus progressively exhaust the seed bank. This strategy has been extremely successful so far, with coral berry now replaced by a delicate native herb, Parietaria debilis, as the dominant ground cover. Prior to this, P. debilis had become very scarce in the reserve.
In addition to coral berry, NICV has been pulling up other known weeds as encountered. These have included African boxthorn, silky oak, lantana, tomato, guava, ochna, cape gooseberry, black olive, Hawaiian holly, Morning Glory vine, Madeira vine, chickweed and milkweed.
As the work on coral berry now appears to be approaching maintenance phase, NICV is discussing options of extending into other reserves and the National Park, or remaining in 100 Acres but becoming more systematic in tackling the other weed species found there.