Tackling weeds with Midcoast council

Hunter Local Land Services, through funding, provided by NSW State Government and the Australian Government, is supporting Midcoast Council to deliver a wide range of priority weed control programs in the Manning Great Lakes district. In total more than $400,000 will be spent helping the area fight the battle against weeds and give our agricultural lands and natural systems a fighting chance to recover from recent bushfires.

Regional Weeds coordinator for Hunter Local Land Services, Matt Kennedy said the project targets regional and local priority weeds in fire scars and nearby areas, and will be completed in partnership with landholders and community groups.

“These key species, from Groundsel Bush to Green Cestrum, African Olive and Cats Claw Creeper, have all been identified as threats to the district’s regeneration after last summer’s devastating fires,” said Matt. “We are proud to be supporting MidCoast Council with additional funds to target and control re-emerging weeds, to give local habitats and productive farmland the best chance at recovery.”

The projects will be completed over the next 12 months, and include implementing a range of control methods, education and training opportunities. Groundsel bush is being targeted around Crowdy Bay National Park between Coraville and Lansdowne. Large patches of groundsel with its wind-borne seed threaten to take advantage of burnt land by colonising new ground and cementing dominance in areas already established. Control works are planned to start in February before this pest plant comes into flower in late Autumn.

“Landholders with groundsel bush should talk with the Midcoast council Biosecurity (weeds) officer,” said Matt. “Landholders in the targeted area should have received some information in the mail about the program. Be on the lookout for the lookout for information days or training opportunities on controlling this weed in their local area.”

Green Cestrum and Cats Claw Creeper are the focus of environmental asset protection around Rowleys river, Wingham Brush and Coocumback Island NR. These areas will see green cestrum hit hard and Cats Claw Creeper cut from riparian trees to allow native species to re-establish the riparian areas. Nearby agricultural land will also be the focus of green cestrum removal to stop the spread of green cestrum back into the environmental assets and protect agricultural land and livestock from this toxic weed. Works are underway to target these weeds with control happening through to June 2021.

“Landholders may see council staff and contractors out and about in these areas, undertaking private land inspections targeting tributaries with green cestrum,” said Matt. “The overall landscape reduction of green cestrum helps to maintain healthy productive agricultural land and environmental lands, so landholders are reminded their help is needed for the benefit of not just their property but the wider environment.”

To add to the already great work done to remove African olive in the greater Gloucester area, a core patch of African olive will be targeted at Bretti. While not affected by fires directly, the area surrounding this patch of African olive continues to spread seed, via water and birds, threatening to establish new core patches in the future.

“Early control of African olive when infestations are first discovered is the best long-term control for this species,” said Matt. “Landholders should be looking to reduce the overall infestation of this pest plant, where local eradication is not a practicable option. Reducing the seed set, by controlling mature plants, will help protect your land and your community.”

Glory lily is found on various conservation lands along the MidCoast coastline and council land north of Forster will see works to reduce and contain glory lily, where it cannot be locally eradicated. The control of this toxic pest plant will help our natural coastal ecosystem recover from prolonged dry times and impacts of fire.

“Glory lily often finds itself in the natural systems through dumped garden waste,” said Matt. “Landholders with this plant are reminded to dispose of all parts of the plant properly and to contact Midcoast council Biosecurity (weeds) officer if they need advice on control or disposal.” Wetlands, natural and manmade waterways in the areas of Nabiac, Failford and Darawank NR will see council and National Parks and Wildlife Service staff, contractors and TIDE (Taree Indigenous Development and Employment Ltd) out and about controlling Ludwigia longifoliaigia, Long-leaf willow primrose. A coordinated approach is being undertaken in these areas. The main focus of this program is the protection of the Darawank NR wetland system. Works have been underway since early February and this additional funding from the state government has boosted the project.

The fluffy flowers of pampas grass around Wallis lake and its islands will hopefully be a thing of the past. Through the use of boats and drones pampas grass will be controlled from the air, land and sea. This plant’s windblown seed can travel quite far, and its reduction will add to the overall decrease of weed seed available to enter into our recovering agricultural lands and natural systems. Control works will be underway in January following aerial inspections planned in the area.

These control programs form part of the Hunter LLS and NSW State government recovery efforts post the 2019-2020 bushfires. There are other projects with a weed focus occurring elsewhere in the Midcoast area and other fire impacted areas of the Hunter region.

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