Australia

Buffel not declared a weed: Why not?


By ERWIN CHLANDA

A campaigner and hands-on combatant of buffel for a quarter century, Alex Nelson, says the government’s initiative about the imported grass taking over much of The Centre is a time wasting exercise.

“There is no reason for not declaring it a noxious weed. They have all the information they need. This is kicking the problem down the road.”

Mr Nelson, who is also a frequent political commentator, speculates that the August election is on the government’s mind: “They are trying not to offend certain people. For example, the Barkly electorate is on a knife’s edge.”

Is the Parks and Wildlife Commission having a laugh?

He says declaring buffel a weed, as it is in South Australia, would open the door to biological control.

Instead the government is planning to spend $1m mostly on buffel and also on gamba in the Top End for “nothing practical”.

Environ Minister Kate Worden says in a media statement that last year the government formed a Technical Working Group which recommend a Weed Advisory Committee to develop a management plan “with the view of declaring buffel grass a weed” and to consider “priority areas and methods where direct management of buffel grass will be valuable and most effective”.

In the Budget $750,000 “will be invested into the strategic management of buffel grass.

“This funding will continue annually and include $575,000 for program management, planning and technical services, $50,000 for a Fire Ready (South) Program, $75,000 for a herbicide program with a focus on community groups, local councils and $50,000 mapping and data analysis.”

This means a $750,000 funding commitment for buffel every year.

Meanwhile the Arid Lands Environment Centre is calling for “strong weed declaration on buffel grass” but otherwise welcomes “the explicit steps taken to improve the management of the highly invasive, flammable grass”.

Mr Nelson has fought buffel on his parents’ rural block, created standout example of buffel removal, maintenance and expansion at Olive Pink Botanic Garden and is currently finishing buffel control work at Pitchi Ritchi Sanctuary.

He says constant watch is needed “forever” so past work is not lost, but after an initial control phase less effort is needed to ensure lasting results.

Co-ordination is essential to avoid occasions when volunteer teams are very enthusiastic at the start but numbers thin out and buffel takes over again.

PHOTO at top: The prime attraction of Alice Springs, and the place where its white community’s history began, the Overland Telegraph Station: The Parks and Wildlife Commission is not clearing buffel between it and the iconic waterhole (photo above) after which the town is named.

The Alice Springs News has published many reports and comment pieces about buffel. Google them on our site.



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