Native species behaving badly
Tuesday 11 December, 2018
Halting the Sallow wattle threat to Grampians National Park
December 2018: Parks Victoria and the Australian Mathematical Sciences Institute (AMSI) have joined forces to fight the spread of Sallow wattle and protect biodiversity in the Grampians National Park.
Home to more than one third of Victoria’s flora, the National Heritage listed park’s rich biodiversity is under threat from a rapidly spreading native plant species - the Sallow wattle. This plant does not naturally occur in the area and is behaving like a weed, threatening the survival of other important native species in the park.
“One of the reasons the Grampians National Park is on the National Heritage list is its amazing diversity of plants. People don’t go to the Grampians to see a wall of wattle,” said Grampians Environment and Heritage Team Leader, Mike Stevens.
“This park has great cultural and environmental significance which is suffering from a massive weed problem. We are using science and data to find the most effective treatment for the problem.”
Parks Victoria and the Australian Mathematical Sciences Institute (AMSI) have been examining the effectiveness and costs of five different treatments to control the overabundant native weed in the national park.
The five treatments being trialled in the program are: brush-cut, manual removal, mulch and two types of herbicide. Current results have indicated that mulch is the most efficient treatment in controlling the weed with no major side effects for native species surrounding the weed. However, further monitoring is required to determine the most effective method in the long term.
“Science, research and monitoring are important for measuring results of conservation actions and informing decision-making into the future,” said Mr Stevens.
AMSI Director Professor Geoff Prince said the ‘Research Partners Program’ with Parks Victoria was an exciting example of the applications of statistical analysis and modelling in environmental monitoring, evaluation and reporting activities. AMSI statistician Kally Yuen continues to work with Parks Victoria in designing the program and conducting the analysis.
“AMSI is particularly pleased to work with Parks Victoria on this critical project. Statistical methodology is an invaluable tool to investigate efficient and cost-effective eradication measures not just for Sallow wattle but for a wide range of invasive species,” said Professor Prince.
As part of the state government’s Biodiversity Response Planning, $1.8 million was allocated to conservation programs in the Grampians National Park, with $647,000 supporting Parks Victoria and AMSI’s ongoing program to stop the invasive plant becoming an unwanted emblematic feature of the Grampians National Park.
Despite being native to Australia, the Sallow wattle emerged as a significant problem in the Grampians following the 1999 Mt Difficult bushfire, which was a catalyst for the plant’s rapid spread in the park. The plant is thought to have been introduced to the Grampians as early as 1860 when it was used as fodder by troopers stationed at Troopers Creek.