June 18, 2012
The Department of Agriculture and Food is calling on the Western Australian community to have their say on draft national strategic plans for two of Australia’s worst weeds – gamba grass and bellyache bush.
Gamba grass (Andropogon gayanus) (photo above) and bellyache bush (Jatropha gossypiifolia) (photo below) were two of the 12 new Weeds of National Significance declared this year following an assessment of their economic, environmental and social impacts as well as potential to spread.
Department Invasive Species director and WA representative on the Australian Weeds Committee Viv Read said these were the first draft strategic plans released for the new Weeds of National Significance.
Similar plans will be available for public comment over the next few months for the remaining 10 weeds.
“Gamba grass is a highly invasive weed with infestations in pastoral and agricultural areas of the top end including the Kimberley region,” Mr Read said.
“Infestations can increase fire intensity up to eight-fold, threatening people and property and causing a decline in the diversity and abundance of native wildlife.”
Bellyache bush was introduced into Australia as an ornamental shrub and the invasive weed has spread throughout tropical savanna areas particularly along rivers where it excludes native vegetation and pasture.
National bellyache bush coordinator Kay Bailey said the weed was unpalatable to stock due to its toxicity which tended to result in it expanding at the expense of pasture grasses. This reduced the viability of grazing enterprises.
Recent national workshops were held to develop the draft national strategic plans. These workshops identified a range of actions to reduce gamba grass and bellyache bush impacts and the threat of further invasion.
The strategic actions identified for gamba grass in WA are aimed at eradication whilst those for bellyache bush are aimed at asset protection. These management targets vary across Australia in the current and potential distribution areas for each species and are reflected in the respective draft strategic plans.
Queensland is managing the nationally-coordinated strategy for gamba grass, while the Northern Territory is leading the nationally coordinated effort to reduce the impact of bellyache bush.
National gamba grass coordinator Nathan March said public comment was being sought on the draft national strategic plans over a four week period starting on 18 June and ending 16 July.
The draft strategic plans and feedback forms are available at www.weeds.org.au/WoNS/bellyachebush and www.weeds.org.au/WoNS/gambagrass