Swift action saves ACT from new invasive weed outbreak

Glynis Quinlan 15 March 2019 14

The high-risk invasive species Coolatai Grass was spotted by a Parks and Conservation ranger along the Cotter Road near Duffy. Photos: Supplied.

Swift action from the ACT Government’s new Biosecurity Emergency Response Team has saved the territory from a new invasive weed which can quickly take hold and resists burning, slashing and herbicides.

An infestation of the high-risk invasive species Coolatai Grass was recently spotted by a Parks and Conservation ranger along the Cotter Road near Duffy and removed within hours of detection.

It is part of an ongoing battle against invasive weeds in the ACT which are seen as a threat to biodiversity and increase fire danger.

“Coolatai Grass is a very high-risk species that quickly dominates pastures and native grasslands and has destroyed large areas of native grasslands in the NSW Northern Tablelands,” said ACT Conservator for Flora and Fauna, Ian Walker.

“Thanks to this early detection from a proactive ranger and a rapid response from our Biosecurity Emergency Response Team, we have prevented this damaging invader establishing itself in the ACT and stopped what could have been a long-term biosecurity battle.

“The infestation was removed and destroyed within hours of the detection. A thorough search of the surrounding area confirmed there were no other infestations nearby,” Mr Walker said.

“Coolatai Grass is particularly nasty as it resists burning, slashing and herbicides and can outcompete other invasive weeds such as African lovegrass.

Coolatai Grass seed heads. The invasive weed was discovered next to the Cotter Road near Duffy.

“Biosecurity is everyone’s responsibility so we encourage anyone who suspects a grass of being invasive to report it on the web-based animal/plant identifier: https://canberra.naturemapr.org/.

“Experts will quickly check the report and if it is invasive the Biosecurity Emergency Response Team will immediately jump into action to control it.”

Mr Walker said the team has been set up under a new approach of ‘early detection and rapid response’, which not only prevents invasive grass becoming established but saves money by avoiding the costs of dealing with a bigger invasion further down the track.

“ACT Parks and Conservation staff working with colleagues in Transport Canberra and City Services have all undergone rapid response training and are deployed when there is a new incursion of a high-risk invasive species like Coolatai Grass or cane toads,” Mr Walker said.

Last year the top three invasive weeds targeted in the ACT were serrated tussock, African lovegrass and St John’s wort with a range of innovative techniques used in the battle.

They included the use of all-terrain vehicles and drones, while abseilers were used to scale down cliffs to reach pockets of prickly pear.

Drones are being used to get to inaccessible places in the ACT’s battle to fight invasive weeds.

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14 Responses to Swift action saves ACT from new invasive weed outbreak
Lexie Donald Lexie Donald 7:06 am 18 Mar 19

Gosh so busy ignoring the blackberry serrated tussock love grass st johns wort that they actually spotted a weed wow

(Sarcastic font)

Robbie Wallace Robbie Wallace 8:23 pm 17 Mar 19

Worst I have ever seen the weeds..... they are spreading plenty.....

Dot Willcoxson Dot Willcoxson 5:33 pm 17 Mar 19

And all the poison they are spraying is harming bees.

Christopher Mawbey Christopher Mawbey 4:00 pm 17 Mar 19

Now get on top of the serated tusock.

Joanne McRae Joanne McRae 3:46 pm 17 Mar 19

Good job. Now how about the African Love Grass which is just about everywhere? How do we deal with that?

gooterz gooterz 3:36 pm 17 Mar 19

Yet they do nothing for the european wasp?

Robyne Mitchell Robyne Mitchell 3:34 pm 17 Mar 19

African lovegrass all throughout Fisher.

Bronwen Pratt Bronwen Pratt 2:54 pm 17 Mar 19

And yet they have let St. John’s wort completely spread all over Canberra ?

Reidar Jorgensen Reidar Jorgensen 1:19 pm 17 Mar 19

Great to see swift action employed while watching the grass grow 😉

Daniel Duncan Daniel Duncan 12:20 pm 17 Mar 19

We have Bio-security team (B.E.R.T.) in the ACT?

Jenny Hutchison Jenny Hutchison 11:42 am 17 Mar 19

Need an app. Plenty of bushwalking people out there who'd be happy to keep an eye out and report suspects. Citizen surveillance swinging into action - just need to make it easy and immediate.

    Jonno Hasselhoff Jonno Hasselhoff 9:51 pm 17 Mar 19

    great idea!

    Kirsten Tasker Kirsten Tasker 8:03 am 18 Mar 19

    Jenny Hutchison we have two apps that we monitor closely for new incursion weeds, they are - Canberra Nature Map and INaturalist. Please jump on board!


Ruth Clark Ruth Clark 10:34 am 17 Mar 19

Should check out Northbourne, great variety of weeds growing there.

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