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The threat from gamba grass

Words: Barry Lyon and Trevor Meldrum | Photo: Trevor Meldrum

Gamba grass (Andropogon gayanus), an introduced plant from Africa, is one of the biggest threats to the natural health of Cape York.

Growing to four metres in height, gamba grass carries four to five times the fuel load of native grasses and burns very fiercely – over 1000 degrees compared to round 350 degrees for spear grass. Gamba grass fires readily kill native vegetation, tall trees included, turning woodlands into grasslands and causing local extinctions of both plant and animal species.

This pest also uses far greater quantities of nutrients and water than native grasses do, significantly impacting on both local and linked landscapes, including wetlands. 
Gamba grass fires pose a significant risk to nearby infrastructure and people trying to control such blazes. Fire benefits the plant, helping to disperse the abundant seeds it produces. It is no wonder that gamba grass has been declared a weed of national significance!

RIGHT NOW, is the time to spray or pull gamba grass infestations, before it sets seed and spreads further. Cape York Weeds and Feral Animals Incorporated Environmental Operations Manager, Trevor Meldrum advises that glyphosate is suitable for chemical control. Trevor can help with identification of gamba grass and recommended chemical application rates (phone: 0400 368 834). CYWAFA Inc. has a spray unit available at no charge to the community.

Cook Shire also has two Quick Spray Units available for loan in Cooktown (subject to a $250 security deposit). Contact Cook Shire Biosecurity Services on 4069 5444 to book a unit

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