We encourage any property managers that are dealing with Blackberries or other woody weeds in the Callignee/Traralgon South/Koornalla areas to attend.
Date: Thursday November 28th
Time: 7.00 pm
Venue: Callignee Hall
Meet with other landholders and work towards a community wide approach to controlling Blackberries.
Learn more about the best methods to tackle Blackberries and other woody weeds.
Report on areas of Blackberry infestation that are of concern in your local area.
We want your input and involvement to help contribute towards more effective Blackberry control at your local level.
Formation of a local sub-group.
Woody Weeds Action Group (Central Gippsland) Inc. is a community group supported by the Victorian Blackberry Taskforce.
“Community partnership projects are geared towards providing community with greater ownership of blackberry management by developing joint projects between community and government and promoting local solutions.”
Blackberry is one of the worst weeds in our district particularly in terms of its environmental impact, with its tendency to out-compete and choke native vegetation, and reduce habitat quality for native animals (e.g. restrict the movement of Koalas) . By law all landholders are required to make reasonable efforts to keep Blackberries under control. Where blackberries can be readily accessed conventional methods such as spraying with herbicides are still the recommended way to keep Blackberries in check.
The development and release several years ago of new strains of Blackberry Leaf Rust may work as an additional tool to help the overall battle against this weed. It is hoped that these new strains are more vigorous and have more of a negative impact on Blackberry growth. Blackberry Leaf Rust spreads by spores which are carried in the wind and it is thought that they can spread long distances. Their ability to spread should mean that after the initial introduction they should disperse out by themselves into sites that have suitable conditions for their growth. (It is impossible to tell by sight whether or not the rust you are looking at are the new strains of rust or the original ones).
Blackberry rust mainly impacts on fresh new growth and has less impact on older canes and leaves. The rust can cause leaves on new growth to curl up and die, preventing the tips of new stems from taking root and spreading. The damage the rust does to the plant can seem spectacular but it may take many years of repeated rust attacks to have a real impact on the Blackberry spread. There is hope however that the in the longer term the impact of the rust on the blackberry foliage can allow more opportunity for native plants to grow and re-establish in areas where Blackberry is currently thriving.
The rust is not tolerant of drought or hot dry conditions, sites where the rust does best tend to be higher rainfall areas (e.g > 750mm per annum) that have part shade and protection from drying winds. It will also persist better in sites that have larger infestations of Blackberry, meaning that where smaller patches exist every effort should be make to remove them by other methods. The best time to see the impact that rust may be having on your site is early autumn.
Central Gippsland Woody Weeds Action Group – Has a new direction.
The Central Gippsland Woody Weeds Action Group (CGWWAG) is now in its third year and is continuing the community driven battle against Blackberry and other woody weeds such as Gorse and Broom. Initially formed as part of bushfire recovery based efforts to get on top of returning weeds, the group is expanding its reach to surrounding areas and aims to be a support network for landholders facing the task of managing invasive weeds on their properties. The group’s operations are based on the Community Weed Model which has been used successfully in Victoria to control Serrated Tussock, Gorse and Ragwort.
The aim of the group is to reduce the growth and spread of blackberry on private land, and also on public/private land boundaries, by working together with all land managers to implement appropriate control measures. To achieve this we are seeking to connect with landholders to help us identify infestations in your area, to let us know if you have a successful control program on your property or to discuss difficulties you may have.
Ian Ewart the groups Chair says that “Landholders can follow their neighbours and sign up for a voluntary three-year agreement, where they agree to take certain actions to manage Blackberry on their properties, if everyone agrees to do their bit we can ease the on-going negative impacts that the spread of these weeds have. We aim to find ways to assist people to do this in any way we can.”
David Akers has been engaged as Project Officer and is keen to hear from landholders in the group’s focus area, which is the northern part of the Strzelecki Ranges between Callignee and Boolarra. David will focus on touching base with the many landholders who have already taken up Management Agreements and done works to control Blackberry to date. He is also keen to work with people who are keen to join in and do their bit to control weeds in their neighbourhood.
Blackberry is a noxious weed that is a major threat to both agricultural production and the natural environment. Immediate control is imperative to achieve the community’s desire for long term, permanent control of this plant in the Central Gippsland Area.
The Callignee/Traralgon South Landcare Group’s spray unit is available for anyone in the district to borrow for weed control purposes. It has a 400 litre tank and two spray hoses that have a reach of about 70m. Get in now and spray your Blackberry and other weeds this year, for more information about borrowing the spray unit or if you want advice on Blackberry and woody weed control, contact the Central Gippsland Woody Weeds Action Group (CGWWAG)
If you are wanting to restore native vegetation, you can save a lot of expense and wasted effort by working with nature as much as possible. Different sites will require different actions to get the desired results. The following examples show some of the different possibilities for action.
The overstorey trees in this gully, (mainly Blue Gums) are regenerating strongly, There are also plenty of understorey plants including various species of native daisy bushes coming back.The main threat to the site is destruction of the recovering vegetation by stock and weed invasion by transforming weeds. Some annual weeds such as Thistles are very common here now but as the trees and understorey grow back they will be shaded out. The real threat is weeds that will potentially outcompete the native plants and reduce the quality of the habitat for animals, in this case Blackberries are the main issue and a high priority should be to establish a plan for their control. There should be no need for any replanting of vegetation, because it should all be able to recover naturally, in order for this to happen the main priority should be to ensure that a good quality fence is built to keep stock away from this sensitive area.
The site above is a completely different story. This area is on an exposed west-facing ridge, it is steep, erosion prone and unproductive so the landholder has wisely decided to re-vegetate it.There are virtually no native species found on this site and given its position in the landscape and the history of grazing, in the near future there is not likely to be any appear on their own . This site needs a long process of rehabilitation it first needs to be fenced out from stock then planted with as many species as possible from its original vegetation type, so that it can eventually become a diverse and valuable habitat for native species. Ongoing control of high threat weeds will need to continue, especially in the first few years after planting to ensure that they do not get a stranglehold on the site and restrict the growth and development of the new plantings.
The above site along a small creek is in a degraded condition with a cover of exotic grasses and weeds and some dead trees present. On a positive note the site does have some surviving overstorey trees as well as some thickets of native understorey present. Again the first priority for this site will be to fence it out from stock. This will give any regenerating trees a much better chance of survival and allow the understorey to spread. Also again weed control of high threat weeds is a high priority. Once fenced is site can be monitored for the appearance of regenerating native plants that may come from seed stored in the soil, blown in by the wind, washed down the gully or dropped on the ground via birds. If regeneration is not occurring you may have to consider other control measures. Rabbits or other browsing animals could be killing new seedlings, you could build a rabbit proof area on the site to see if that makes a difference. Or perhaps thick grass is stopping germination, you could spray an area with herbicide or scalp off some topsoil to see if that helped trigger new plants to sprout. If all else fails you may go back and resort to planting out the open areas of the site with tube-stock.
The site above is quite a difficult one, It is steep, highly exposed and has poor soil. It formerly had pines growing on it before the fires. It has been sprayed for Blackberry but there are still plenty of Blackberry canes re-sprouting and other weeds such as Variegated Thistle covering the site. the other side of the ridge does have some native scrub growing on it which could provide a source of seed, but it also harbours plenty of Swamp Wallabies which will be keen to eat any newly planted seedlings. Turning this site back to native vegetation will probably be a slow process. One strategy may be to fence the site out from stock and replant the site with overstorey eucalypt and wattle species. The site is likely to be too exposed and weedy for understorey plants to survive. If a canopy can eventually be achieved (maybe up to 10 years later), Shade and protection will provide a better opportunity for understorey and a greater diversity of plants to be established.
This site above is typical of many in the Strzelecki Ranges. It is a very steep slope that was cleared for farming, although hindsight tells us that this was a bad mistake. Since given up for agriculture this gully has seen species such as Blackwood and Silver Wattle come back via soil stored seeds and root suckers, and daisy bushes blow in via their wind-blown seeds. The Eucalyptus overstorey however has disappeared, with no hope of natural replacement. The answer is to once again fence out the site from any stock that may be keen enough to wander down into the gully. Attempts to establish carefully selected Eucalyptus species can then be attempted, this will not be simple as Swamp Wallabies are again sure to be common at this site. One common (but expensive and labour intensive) option is to install mesh wire guards at least 1.2m tall around any plantings to allow them to grow above the height at which Wallabies can graze them). Another issue on this site is the large established Pine trees, Pinus radiata, the simplest way of dealing with the Pines may be to poison them.If they are allowed to persist they will reduce the habitat value of the site and regularly drop seed and produce new wildlings.
This last site on this post has seen a mass regeneration of some species after the fires. No stock on the site has seen thousands of seedlings emerge. The landholder is fencing, what is a very long gully, some areas of the gully have recovering remnants, other bits were formerly pasture with a thick carpet of new Wattles and other species coming up and other bits are bare. The uneven regeneration at this site means that planting may be necessary in some parts and not others. Carefully selection of species to plant is also necessary. There is no point wasting time and effort planting when thousands of plants of that species are already coming up on their own. Spots where overstorery trees are missing are probably the highest priority because unlike species that can be spread by wind-borne winged or fluffy seed or berries carried by birds Eucalyptus seed is only spread by release from its capsules.
Blackberries are clearly one of the most heavily established weeds in this district and are a major issue for farms where they take over productive areas and provide a harbour for vermin. They are also a major environmental weed that can invade native bushland and reduce the quality of habitat for native fauna e.g. The Strzelecki Koala. The fires, by burning off the above ground blackberry shoots have temporarily improved access to areas and provided an opportunity for blackberry regrowth to be more easily treated. There are many resources available to provide information on the best techniques for Blackberry control one of the best being the Blackberry Control Manual it is available online via this link : http://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/agriculture/pests-weeds/weeds/publications/blackberry
The Central Gippsland Woody Weeds Action Group was formed in response to the opportunity to provide a community driven response to Blackberry control in the local area.