bushIn response to unauthorised weed removal undertaken by members of the public last weekend on council land, Byron Shire Council is asking concerned people to join recognised organisations such as Landcare and Dunecare, instead of tackling the issue themselves.

Byron Shire Council’s natural resources team leader Scott Hetherington said staff have inspected the site at South Golden Beach where the bitou bush was removed. He acknowledged that community concern over the council’s proposed aerial spraying with Department of Environment and Climate Change and Far North Coast Weeds may have been the trigger for last weekend’s bitou bush removal, but he stressed that this action has created additional problems.

“A significant amount of the bitou bush has not had enough root material removed to kill the plants, and it will now actually result in increased regrowth,” Mr Hetherington said.

“Similarly, the bitou bush has been stockpiled on top of existing native regeneration sites (pictured) that are part of ongoing works by council, contractors and Dunecare volunteers.

“We will now have to remove these piles to ensure that the native species under them do not perish.” 

According to Mr Hetherington, native plant species were also removed and found dumped in the refuse piles on top of already regenerated areas.

“Some of the dumped bitou bushes contained seeds and they may re-infect a previously bitou-free site,” Mr Hetherington said.

“Unfortunately this creates an additional maintenance issue beyond what is planned for when scheduling primary treatment of weeds.”

Mr Hetherington said the soil disturbance and general trampling resulting from the weekend was far more than regeneration techniques employed by the council, and this is likely to aggravate weed growth in the area.

“Spraying allows for the dead bitou bush to provide a stablised mat under which the native seed bank can regenerate and push its way up to the sunlight,” he said.

In helping to address some of these issues, Mr Hetherington said Landcare and Dunecare groups provide training in appropriate weed management techniques and the handling of tools and equipment.

“The organisations also assist with weed and plant identification and work in conjunction with council’s shire-wide strategy in targeting weeds,” he said.

“The working groups are a strategic and co-ordinated approach that helps us join neighbouring shires to improve biodiversity values. 

“A weed management program run by a recognised group allows Byron Shire Council to notify people on our chemical-sensitive and organic grower’s register of the proposed works in order to minimise disturbance to neighbouring landholders.

“There are also concerns associated with Occupational Health and Safety of the volunteers which is addressed through involvement with authorised Dunecare and Landcare groups.”

Community members wishing to be involved in weed management on public lands should contact the Landcare Community Support Officer, Wendy Gibney on 6626 7028.

Due to weather conditions, the planned bitou bush aerial spray on Wednesday 20 May, north of the Brunswick River, was cancelled. Alternative dates will be advised once confirmed.

Byron Shire Council’s Register of Chemical Sensitive Residents and Organic Growers can be found at www.byron.nsw.gov.au/pesticide