alligator-weed-near-broadwaterFollowing the floods earlier this year, a nightmare looms for farmers and landowners in the Lower Richmond, according to Ross Garsden of Far North Coast Weeds.

Far North Coast Weeds is planning a major campaign in the Lower Richmond to help locate and eradicate any new infestations of Alligator Weed (Alternathera philoxeroides).

Once used as an aquarium plant, this weed is a potential nightmare for farmers and landowners alike, described by some as the ‘world’s worst weed.’

“Alligator Weed was first discovered in Byron Creek near Bangalow in 1998,” Mr Garsden said.

“Since that time Far North Coast Weeds, in co-operation with landowners and community groups, has mounted a concerted effort to eradicate this weed from the Richmond Catchment.

“Until recently, Alligator Weed was thought to only occur upstream of Lismore. In October 2008 a new infestation was located in Rocky Mouth Creek near Woodburn.

“A further survey of the Richmond River downstream of Coraki located two additional sites, one near the mouth of Swan Bay and the other at Broadwater.

alligator-weed-close-up“Despite the fact that sites were treated and contained prior to the 2009 floods, it is highly likely that the recent floodwaters have spread fragments of this serious weed further downstream.”

Significant areas of the Hunter and the Riverina have been devastated by this weed and farmers in those regions will be the first to affirm the need for early attention, Mr Garsden said.

“The stems break off during a flood and a short section of stem with one or two nodes is all that is needed to establish a new plant,” he said.

Far North Coast Weeds, in co-operation with the Andrew Petroechevsky, the National Aquatic Weeds Co-ordinator, and NSW Department of Primary Industries is conducting a community information seminar in Woodburn on 18 August 2009 to provide the local community and farmers in the lower Richmond with information about this serious weed.

“Far North Coast Weeds believes that eradication is a realistic and achievable goal, however this will only be possible with a massive increase in community awareness and participation.

“Following the recent floods, all properties downstream of Coraki that are subject to flooding or inundation are now vulnerable. 

“Once established, this weed requires immediate and ongoing control works to ensure that it does not spread. If let go, it can rapidly dominate pastures, swamps and dry country, including cropping land and can quickly become impossible to control.

“This weed is easy to identify. Its small, papery white flowers are borne on short stems. Its bright green and shiny leaves are arranged opposite along the stem and the tell-tale test is the hollow stem.

“If you find something that matches this description, simply break the stem, and if it’s hollow, chances are it’s Alligator Weed.”

Far North Coast Weeds is keen to learn of any new infestations.

“Many landowners are reluctant to report noxious weeds, because they fear the potential repercussions. The problem with this weed is that if it is not dealt with immediately, it will cost much more to eradicate in the longer term and it has the potential to seriously devalue a property,” Mr Garsden said.

Far North Coast Weeds is seeking assistance from anyone who thinks they may have discovered this weed growing anywhere in the region.

“It presents a real and immediate threat, not just to farmers but to anyone who values the environment and the health of our waterways,” Mr Garsden said.

“If it gets away, it will have a seriously damaging impact on the environment and the economy of the region.”

Far North Coast Weeds is holding a community information seminar at Woodburn Bowling Club, on Tuesday 18 August 2009. All landowners and land managers in the Lower Richmond, and all folk who use the lower Richmond for fishing or other recreation are invited to attend.

“The success of the control program depends upon increased community awareness and participation,” Mr Garsden said.

“Commencing at 10am with morning tea, presenters will provide some background on what this weed has cost Australian agriculture elsewhere, how it is being controlled in the Richmond and how you can learn to identify it.

“Following the presentations, a light lunch will be provided, as well as an opportunity to visit Rocky Mouth Creek in the early afternoon to see the infestation sites and learn about how the sites are being managed.”

Bookings are essential for catering purposes, so if you would like to attend the community information seminar please call Far North Coast Weeds on 6623 3833 to register before Friday 14 August.