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Landholders gain foothold on weed infestations

A large expanse of rubber vine is being treated in the Laura region by the team working for Cape York Weeds and Feral Animals (CYWAFA) Inc.

Cape York NRM supports people and organisations across the Cape with projects to improve the sustainable use of the Cape’s natural resources.

Michael Goddard from Cape York NRM said, “The Laura River Rubber Vine Control Project is effectively reducing the amount of rubber vine growing along the waterways, allowing the return of native grasses and minimising soil loss during rain events”.

Work commenced near Carrolls Crossing on the Laura River on the Peninsula Developmental Road south-east of Laura.

CYWAFA Environmental Operation’s Manager Trevor Meldrum said rubber vine treatment is being carried out on properties from the Crossing through to Turalba Valley Station.

“Landholders are thrilled with the results they’re seeing,” he said.

“I’ve actually seen them smiling about what the team has achieved, so they’re quite impressed with what’s been accomplished since November last year. They can’t thank the Cape York Weeds and Feral Animals team and Cape York NRM enough. Getting rid of the rubber vine allows grass to return. Grass holds the soil in place and stops the soil runoff into waterways, plus it takes the energy out of the water before it actually gets into the river systems.”

The CYWAFA Inc team is killing the weed using the basal barking process and impregnating it with a mixture of diesel and the herbicide Access, which is a biodegradable herbicide registered for use on rubber vine.

“Basal barking is where you run a ring around the basal or trunk area of the rubber vine from knee-height down to the root where the diesel burns the chemical into the sapwood, and the sapwood picks up the Access which kills the plant outright, Trevor said.

“We’ve been using the basal barking method all the way down because in a lot of the areas it’s the only way you can access the weed—the areas are pretty degraded and it’s very hard to get at with machines—and a lot of this rubber vine is above two metres tall and anything above two metres tall you cannot foliar spray, so basal barking is the only technique that can be used successfully.

The Federal Government’s Laura River Rubber Vine Control Project is a component of the Reef Trust Phase IV: Scaling up Normanby Basin gully and stream bank remediation in priority areas program. The aim of the project is to reduce sediment loss by increasing native ground cover through the reduction of rubber vine infestations. The result of this work will enable time poor landholders reduce their management input in weed control on their properties to the point that only minor follow up control is required.