Southern Downs cracking down on African boxthorn and tree pear

Southern Downs cracking down on African boxthorn and tree pear


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Southern Downs Regional Council local laws officer Matthew Murphy treats tree pear.

Southern Downs Regional Council local laws officer Matthew Murphy treats tree pear.

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Work is continuing in a bid to crack down on the scourge of invasive pests such as prickly pear and African boxthorn.

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Landholders across South East Queensland fighting to bring invasive weeds like tree pear, African boxthorn and blackberry under control say efforts to control the pests have been working.

In the Southern Downs Regional Council area a scheme was introduced in 2017 where levies were imposed on landholders, but refunded if pest control responsibilities were met.

For their part, the council treats pests on council-owned roads and land.

A Southern Downs Regional Council spokesman said data collected from 2017-2018 to 2018-2019 suggested that Council and landowners had reduced the total area of private land infested with invasive pests by approximately 24,000 hectares.

Based on an online survey, the average amount of land treated for invasive pests is 26 hectares per property for that same period.

"The invasive pests that impact the environment and economy of the Southern Downs the most are African boxthorn, blackberry, tree pear, rabbits and wild dogs," he said.

"While the majority of landholders in the Southern Downs control invasive pests on their land, SDRC implemented the Invasive Pests Control Scheme in 2017-2018 to help ensure all landholders across the region control invasive pests on their properties.

"With a road network of over 3000km along with reserves and other land Council owns, SDRC encourages feedback from the community to highlight areas that need treating and Council attends to these areas as a matter of priority."

Clive Smith, Mulgowan, Goldfields said while some people had initially been uncertain about the scheme, it was paying off.

"The amount of boxthorn and tree pear that you see has dropped," he said.

"Everyone's been doing their bit.

"Obviously people don't want to get a fine but treating the tree pear hasn't been an onerous task.

Mr Smith said while the pests wouldn't be wiped out overnight, the work that had already been done would make it easier to control in years to come.

"We're getting to whittle it down, that's for sure.

"We've got 11,500 acres, so it'll be an ongoing job for the next three or four years."

Peter Lindores, Melrose Station, Killarney said the success of the program was impressive and that he had noticed a difference in his area when it came to weeds such as tree pear and jumping cactus.

"I think it's a great thing," he said.

"We've done it for some eight or nine years but not consistently, this had motivated us to do it more.

"We take pride in it because we get a lot of tourists in the area and we want to present well to the wider community."

The Southern Downs Regional Council pest control scheme has been approved until June 30, 2020, with a review of the program due before it expires.

But more challenges remain in the crackdown against invasive weeds, with Biosecurity Queensland revealing that they seized more than 300 illegal potted cacti in the past year from people attempting to sell them.

Agriculture minister Mark Furner said the 315 plants were being sold by internet traders or nurseries in south east Queensland.

"The most commonly traded species are bunny ears, blind cactus, drooping tree pear, velvety tree pear, and Eve's pin cactus," Mr Furner said.

"Australia doesn't have any native cacti, but with so many dry areas our landscape is the ideal environment for them to thrive.

"There are now cacti infestations in all states and territories of Australia, which are having serious impacts on agriculture and the environment.

"Some species will form dense, impenetrable thickets that restrict livestock grazing and negatively impact on productivity, as well as fence and gate maintenance."

Since 2012, 27 cacti species had been listed as weeds of national significance.

Southern Downs Regional council local laws officers Matthew Murphy and Mat Murphy treat tree pear.

Southern Downs Regional council local laws officers Matthew Murphy and Mat Murphy treat tree pear.

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