Not all green is great

Uploaded by BiosecurityQld on 20.10.2011

Many Australians enjoy gardening as their favourite pastime and it's good for them!
Gardening for 30-45 minutes is equivalent to walking 3 km.
But what gardeners are planting may not be so healthy for the environment.
Many plants brought into Australia from overseas have now become some of our worst invasive
plants or weeds.
Weeds have escaped from gardens to spread across millions of hectares of valuable agricultural
land and natural bush, devastating Australia's landscapes. Many are also toxic and harmful
to animals and humans.
What's more, invasive plants or weeds are costing Australia's agricultural industry
over $4 billion each year.
That directly affects you at the supermarket register.
Not only that these destructive invaders take a huge toll on thousands on native plants
and animals - to the point of threatening the survival of some species.
About 65 per cent of plants brought into Australia, were first planted in gardens as ornamental
features. Plants such as lantana, rubber vine, salvinia and blackberry may look nice, but
these invasive garden plants and many others are now seriously impacting on farmers and
their families.
What where finding here, is not so much the losses of cattle, it's the loss of country.
That's the big one. Where it was productive country before was native grasses is now just
choked with lantana. And at least 60% of the property would be heavily infested. The economic
impact is very significant, I mean in this day and age where it's harder and harder to
produce the income to cover your costs, the higher your costs become, the less competitive
you are.
This was a plant that councils were still planting a few years ago in the town gardens
and stuff. Here we are this is the result of it. I'm not looking at it to say if I clean
this block here up I can sell it for x amount of dollars, I mean I'm looking to say well
I want this to be what it was before this garden plant came in here.
Invasive plants have also extensively damaged world heritage areas and national parks, where
they often overtake native plants and reduce native food sources for animals.
Invasive plants are often very hardy — they produce large amounts of seed that may remain
viable for a long time, and many are attractive to fruit-eating birds that spread seed to
new areas.
Many weeds also increase the risk of hot fires, which can further destroy native vegetation
and open the way for even more weed invasion. Sadly, many plants unique to Australia are
now at risk of being lost for good, as are the native insects and animals that depend
on them.
Park rangers and community groups are battling to preserve our precious natural heritage.
I work in ecological restoration for Gold Coast City Council and at the moment myself
and the team are charged with rehabilitating 15,000 hectares. Most of that work is really
centred around weed control.
Over the years, invasive plants have been increasing in our bushland areas that back
onto residential blocks. Weeds know no boundaries so they're forever moving in encroaching on
our native species in parks.
Well here I am on the edge of a gully that lies between residential area and bushland.
As you can see, this is a perfect example of how invasive plants can spread. A lot of
plants you see behind me would have come from illegal dumping from residential blocks or
the seeds could have come along the waterways into the area and they've surrounded and choked
all native vegetation.
Just by looking around it's clear to see how invasive plants can choke an environment.
They impact on the structure of forest types, they stop natives from regenerating and they
really limit habitat type as well as the food sources. So rather than some of the birds
having 200 species to choose from, when we've got a really seriously weed infested area,
they now only have 10 species to choose from.
Well what we've got here, in this particular environment is whole lot of green but very
few species. And as I walked through earlier, I only found two native species.
But one thing that really relies on healthy native vegetation is our local animals.
Without having their natural habitat that they rely on for shelter and food, they've
been pushed out and are no longer found in our natural areas.
The last 12 years I've been working in this, I have seen systems drowning underneath these
invasive plants. So we really need to start doing something now.
Government agencies are working with the garden industry to help prevent the sale of invasive
plants and to help spread the word about which plants are suitable for your garden.
We often have plants that people bring in that are not the right plant for that position
and certainly the nursery industry has got lots of ideas and lots of advice on different
plants that are available that will certainly suit that position.
If you're not sure a plant you've got has weed potential or is a bit unruly, then certainly
come in and the nursery can advise you on plants that are not going to be invasive in
the garden.
So drop into your local garden centres, I'm sure they will be able to help you out.
Careful management of gardens is vital to reduce the spread of invasive plants.
If a plant is growing in an extremely good place, it could become quite vigorous and
very robust and out of control.
So… we really need your help in managing this serious national issue.
Everyone can help: • by recognising the types of garden plants
that are invasive and replacing them with non invasive species
• by removing seeds and fruit from invasive plants to prevent birds spreading them to
new areas. • by not sharing cuttings or plants with
your friends or family — as these plants could be invasive
• by not tipping any pond or aquarium content into waterways, these plants can be invasive
too • by noting plants that are spreading into
local waterways or bush and advising your local community groups about these infestations
• and finally by not dumping any garden clippings in the bush or along creeks.
People think it's alright, I'm just putting my lawn clippings in there, it's a little
bit of compost that should be good for our bush shouldn't it. Well, I hate to say it's
not good at all. A lot of those plants take off vegetatively and introduce new infestations
into our natural systems.
Dispose of garden waste by: • placing waste in black plastic bags and
baking it in the sun for a few weeks prior to putting it in the compost bin
• bagging waste and placing in your council rubbish bin
• transporting waste to the tip with your load covered.
Weed control in your garden depends on the size of the plants, your strength to remove
them and their likelihood of re-sprouting from seeds in the ground.
To help control weeds you can: • Pull them out or grub them out with a
grubbing tool. This can be time consuming, but is likely to give the best result
• You can spray them with herbicide that will control them, however you'll require
personal protection equipment and need to read the label carefully
• And you can cut stump or basal bark woody plants which have thick stems. This means
using a small amount of concentrate herbicide which will be absorbed into the plant.
This technique that I'm going to demonstrate now is the cut stump method. Using a pair
of secateurs, cut as close as you can to the ground, make sure you get a nice clean cut,
flat cut and then paint it within 15 seconds with glyphosate mixed at 1 to 1 with water.
It's also important that when you spray the plant here, that you treat up to 40cm up to
the top of the plant here and dribble the chemical all the way down the plant and slowly
move right around the plant ensuring not leave any bare strip at the back because that's
important. If you don't do that, the whole plant will grow from that.
This is cat's claw creeper. It may even look dead, but it's not. This vine gets so thick
and so heavy, in a few more years it's likely to bring down this tree.
It's got its own special method. So were going to cut it off, in here and then peel it off
the tree and then we're going to get in here, nice and low, do another cut and then we're
going to paint it. Were painting it here with a mix of glyphosate and water at 1 to 1.
Now because this has got a big tuber underneath the soil, I'm going to use my trusty knife
and I'm going to scrap a bit more bark off it and paint it again. Because that allows
me to get that more volume of herbicide into that big tuber underneath the soil.
For the control of larger trees, it is likely you'll need professional assistance.
We can all do our bit to stop invasive plants ruining our natural heritage. In incense,
everyone needs to be a Weedbuster.
Please don't grow invasive plants and don't let them spread to new places.
It's important that we realise we need to work as a community to solve the problem of
invasive plant species. We need to protect our natural environment and preserve it for
future generations.
We have to match our passion for gardening with the passion that's required to rehabilitate
our natural systems. Not all green is great.
For more info, contact: • your local council
• Biosecurity Queensland • Greening Australia
• your retail garden centre • your local community group.