Sentinel gardens raising biosecurity awareness at schools

Under the TMBC umbrella, we have a unique project called the Sentinel Gardens – raising biosecurity awareness at schools and also assisting with surveillance for biosecurity threats.

There are currently two gardens in place at St Thomas More and St Marys School, where the students monitor a variety of plants every day for any unwanted bugs and pathogens.   

A sentinel garden consists of host plant species that might provide early warning of invasive insect species and pathogens. Additional bug traps can be added to aid monitoring and increase the likelihood of detecting the high-risk pest. Those who are monitoring the plants get to know their bugs so that they can identify any new and established pests. If a biosecurity threat is found, a report to MPI can be made immediately and actions can be taken to contain the risk.

NZ Landcare Trust’s Bay of Plenty Regional Coordinator Janie Stevenson has been instrumental in establishing the gardens. ‘This is the first community project of its kind and are a great way to build community awareness and surveillance skills,’ says Janie. 

Plans are now underway for two commercial businesses who are keen to create a sentinel garden onsite to educate their staff on what bugs to look for and to increase surveillance skills. 

‘We hope that good surveillance habits are developed using these gardens and then applied in the home environment too,’ says Janie. 

We all have a part to play in protecting our way of life from biosecurity threats and this is a great way to get people involved and taking action. Well done to Janie and the team!

Note: TMBC members NZ Landcare Trust have just launched their new website which has a wealth of resources for catchment groups, landowners, landcare groups, schools and organisations working on sustainable land management and environmental initiatives.  These resources are available to download here.