Mason Bay Grasses

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    This photo exhibits the invasive, introduced grass Ammophila arenaria, commonly known as European Marram Grass or European Beach Grass. The grass was introduced to the Stewart Island west coast as part of farming efforts in the 1930s and has been rapidly spreading ever since. This hardy grass is approximately one meter in height and has deeper roots than the native grasses it replaced. The introduction of this grass completely changed the topography of the dunes from the time when native grasses were present to the present time, promoting substantially steeper sand dune slopes. In 2000, the Department of Conservation began to spray an herbicide to kill the grass in an effort to eradicate it and allow the native grasses to return. No other country has ever made the attempt to remove this weed from such an enormous area.

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