New Zealand Journal of Ecology (2017) 41(2): 234-239

Aerial glyphosate application reduces grey willow (Salix cinerea) canopy cover, increases light availability, and stimulates kahikatea (Dacrycarpus dacrydioides) growth

Research Article
James W. Griffiths *
Kate G. McAlpine  
  1. Department of Conservation, 18–32 Manners Street, Wellington, New Zealand
*  Corresponding author
Abstract: 

Grey willow (Salix cinerea) is widely established in New Zealand’s remaining swamps and fens, and in many areas has replaced endemic kahikatea (Dacrycarpus dacrydioides) forest. Conservation managers need to know how to restore willow-invaded wetlands to a resilient natural state, but knowledge on how to achieve this goal is limited. We planted kahikatea seedlings into an intact stand of grey willow and into areas where the herbicides glyphosate or triclopyr had been aerially applied to control willow ~1.5 years earlier. We measured canopy cover, light availability and the growth of planted kahikatea. In areas treated with glyphosate, grey willow canopy cover was reduced to 44% ± 3.7% (95% confidence interval), light availability increased to 64% ± 15% of full sunlight, and kahikatea grew an average of 44 cm ± 11.7 cm in 14 months. In contrast, there was little or no kahikatea growth under the intact willow canopy or in the triclopyr treatment area where grey willow canopy cover remained high and mean light availability was low (25% ± 4% of full sunlight). We conclude that the removal of the grey willow canopy through aerial glyphosate application created favourable conditions for the growth of planted kahikatea and may enable the restoration of kahikatea forest in wetlands dominated by grey willow.