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Tackling the scourge of lantana

A world-first collaborative effort to eradicate the invasive weed lantana from the lower South Coast region is underway.

A Weed of National Significance, lantana is a highly-invasive, toxic plant that commonly infests hard-to-reach places and has resulted in an estimated $104.3 million in lost agricultural production Australia-wide.

Wallaga Lake is the southern-most point in Australia that lantana grows and there is a national focus on eradicating it from the region. It also threatens the vulnerable Warty Zieria shrub, which only grows in the Gulaga and Tilba Tilba areas.

Eurobodalla Council’s Invasive Species Supervisor Paul Martin said that despite concerted efforts to combat lantana in the Tilba and Narooma districts over the years, the problem continued to grow.

“We decided to take a more proactive approach, using a method called community-based social marketing,” he said.

“We conducted research with landholders to identify the barriers to controlling the lantana and based on their feedback developed a strategy that would be effective on the ground.

“The infestations are really quite severe in some cases and people just need a little bit of help. We’re empowering landholders with the right tools and knowledge to be able to take ownership of effective lantana control, and encourage their neighbours to do so as well.”

Council will arrange free track cutting for any landholder needing access to control lantana on their property. It also has available for loan 17 gas-powered “splatter” spray guns that have proven effective in the ongoing war to manage lantana, as well as free one-on-one training.

Bellbrook Farm is one of the largest private properties in Tilba and jointly managed by the National Parks and Wildlife Service and the Gulaga National Park Board of Management. NPWS Ranger Sophie Hall-Aspland said they’ve been impressed by the program.

“The knowledge and practical help offered by the Council has allowed us to all work together to get lantana under control on Bellbrook Farm,” she said. “It’s been a great partnership.”

Council’s Environment Project Officer Mitchell Jarvis said there had been good success with the 12 properties involved in the Narooma and Tilba districts so far.

“We’ve had about a 95 per cent reduction in lantana on those properties involved, which is very significant,” he said.

“Lantana has a relatively short seed life, so if landholders act now, we hope to get rid of it from the southern region within the next couple of decades.

“If we don’t control it where it is here in the Eurobodalla there is a big risk of the weed spreading further south or west through to the Murray Darling Basin.”

Council says the control work will continue to roll out thanks to funding from the NSW Government Save Our Species program, which aims to reduce the impacts of lantana on biodiversity.

Landholders interested in being part of the program should contact Council’s invasive species team on 4474 1000.

Above: Eurobodalla Council’s Invasive Species Supervisor Paul Martin, Environment Project Officer Mitchell Jarvis and National Parks and Wildlife Service’s Sophie Hall-Aspland at one of the Tilba properties involved in the pilot lantana control program.

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