Community works together to control pest plant

December 2, 2021 BY

Invasive: Agriculture Victoria is calling on landowners in Staffordshire Reef to join in a local gorse control program. Photo: FILE

RESIDENTS in Staffordshire Reef are being encouraged to join in the battle against one of the country’s worst weeds.

Owners of several properties are working with Agriculture Victoria to find the best way to control gorse, classified as a regional controlled weed in the Corangamite catchment which landowners have the responsibility of controlling under the Catchment and Land Protection Act 1994.

Leading biosecurity officer at Agriculture Victoria, Fiona Sharman, said letters have been sent out and properties will be visited between January and March next year to encourage more people to join the efforts.

“If the field observations show that significant control efforts have been made and that the community is mostly receptive to controlling gorse to support community action, we will continue to support their efforts,” she said.

“We would like the broader community to know about the project so that landowners in the area are aware and can also take action to control gorse on their properties.”

Gorse is recognised by the popping sound of the seed pods cracking on hot days, with seeds “ejected” up to five metres from the plant.

“Gorse also provides harbour for invasive species such as rabbits, foxes, and feral cats that impact our native wildlife and vegetation,” Ms Sharman said.

“Gorse hinders the natural ecosystem by competing with native plants, displacing native animals, and obstructing access to waterways.

“A long-term effect of the plant’s presence is that the soil becomes more acidic and loses nutrients.”

During fire season, gorse can also increase risk of fire spreading onto paddocks and pastures.

“There are multiple control methods including chemical treatment, cultivation, physical removal and mulching. However, the best approach is to combine multiple methods,” Ms Sharman said.

“For large gorse infestations mulching using bobcats or larger machinery followed up by chemical treatment can prove to be an effective method of control.”

According to Agriculture Victoria, gorse should be treated before the plant set seeds, which can live longer than 25 years. Yearly follow up works to control methods are required.