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Weed Management

The Kurnell Peninsula has a significant problem with invasive weeds. These include pampas grass, bitou bush, asparagus fern, lantana, castor oil plant, asthma weed and green cestrum.

Pampas grass (foreground) and bitou bush near Towra Point Nature Reserve

In 1997, Sutherland Shire Council produced a Noxious Weeds Strategy which identified the Kurnell Peninsula as the number one priority for noxious weed control.

In 1998 Council conducted a series of workshops and seminars for landholders on the Peninsula. The first target weed was pampas grass and property holders were informed of methods for controlling not only pampas but other weeds as well. As result, significant inroads have been made on the problem of weeds on private land.

Council's Noxious Weeds Officer continues to undertake site inspections and monitoring on private land on the Peninsula.

Weed eradication work was also undertaken on Council reserves, targeting bitou bush, castor oil plant, lantana and pampas grass. In some areas such as Boat Harbour and Wanda Reserve, aerial spraying has taken place. In 1999/2000, National Parks and Wildlife Service also undertook aerial spraying of areas of Botany Bay National Park.

During this same period, groups of community volunteers, under the guidance of NPWS, began a major campaign of weed eradication in Towra Point Nature Reserve targetting bitou bush and lantana in particular. These volunteer 'Bitou Bashes' as they were coined, led to the subsequent formation of the Friends of Towra group who now continue to assist with a range of environmental activities in the Reserve in a regular basis. Volunteers also undertake bush regeneration activities in Botany Bay National Park. New volunteers are always welcome and for more details click here.

Asparagus Fern
Since these programs were put in place, there has been a significant reduction in the biomass of weeds on the Peninsula. Rigorous follow up is a necessity.

In 2000, bitou bush was targeted, with discussions on the problem facilitated in the first half of the year. Bitou bush was declared Noxious in March 1998. In 1999 the invasion of native plant communities by Bitou bush was declared a Key Threatening Process because of its vigorous growth and effect on threatened species. Moreover, the seeds of the bush can survive in the soil for up to 5 years.

Biological controls have been utilised on the Kurnell Peninsula in recent times. In April 2000 the Lantana Leaf Miner and Stem Sucker bio controls were released. Up to 500 Leaf Miners were released in the Council-controlled Charlotte Breen Reserve and the stem suckers in wetter environments of the Kurnell Dune Forest. The Leaf Miner 'mines' and scars the leaf thereby affecting the photosynthesis of the plant. This also puts stress on the plant and reduces the frequency of flowering and seeding. The Stem Sucker attaches itself to weed stems and sucks out the plant's nutrients.

A number of bush regenerators have also been working in Charlotte Breen Reserve.

Lantana at Towra Point
A major fire occurred on the Kurnell Peninsula in October 2000. Extensive areas of vegetation (both native and introduced) in the National Park, on Crown land (below), at Boat Harbour and on private land near the Oil Refinery were burnt.

This creates ideal conditions for germination of native and exotic seeds, reduces the amount of herbicide needed for weed eradication, and allows improved access. But vigilance is required to prevent weeds recolonising larger areas than was previously the case.

Extensive bush regeneration has also taken place as part of the upgrade of the Cronulla Sewage Treatment Plant. Large areas of weeds including bitou bush and lantana have been cleared and thousands of native seedlings planted.
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