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December 6, 2019 - Pest weed spreads across far north

Out Of Control: fast-spreading weed could “devastate” grazing and gardening in tropical far north, experts say

A Councillor from the Cassowary Coast region has called for the Queensland State Government to help fund the control of a fast-spreading weed that threatens grazing and gardens in the tropical far north.

Navua Sedge was a pest weed that strangled and competed with native grasses and plants in any area where it could get established, according to Councillor Jeff Baines, of the Cassowary Coast Regional Council.

The issue was bigger than any one Council in the far north could hope to control, and financial investment from the State Government was needed to help keep the weed at bay.

“The potential for the spread of Navua Sedge is almost unlimited, because it develops rapidly and doesn’t appear to have any natural enemies or elements to keep it under control,” Cr Baines said.

“Further spread could be devastating to grazing and other industries. Many Councils are finding it at their town outskirts as well, and it can potentially take over gardens, recreational areas and waterways.”

Navua Sedge had rapidly proven unpopular with recreational gardeners, who recognised the threat it poses.

Innisfail’s Pat Pensini, the overall champion in this year’s regional Tropical Garden Challenge said that the weed was “an absolute menace”.

“It’s really acclimatised to our part of the world, and it can take the moisture that native plants need.

“Everyone’s going to have to be on the ball and recognise it before it seeds, because once it seeds it spreads - and then it’s much more difficult to get rid of.”

Cr Baines said that the Cassowary Coast Regional Council was part of a group of Councils and industry bodies to invest in new research and control measures for the weed.

However further State Government funding was required to create new bio-security measures to tackle the problem at its source.

“The spread occurs too rapidly for conventional weed-spraying to have a big enough effect. Other solutions are necessary, and this requires funding,” Cr Baines said.

“We are seeing some potentially very powerful research come out of Biosecurity Queensland, and this will be part of ongoing efforts to stop the weed spreading. More work however is definitely needed.”

A public presentation for residents and farming groups will be held on December 11, from 9.30am-12.30pm, at Malanda RSL in Catherine St.

Guest speaker will be Dr K Dhileepan, senior principal scientist, Invasive Plant and Animal Science, Biosecurity Queensland, Department of Agriculture and Fisheries.

Admission to the event is free. For more information and to RSVP, contact 0409 820 554.