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Weeding out invasive species

It’s ready to roll out to combat one of the more invasive, destructive grasses in the country.

A convoy of utes driven by representatives from local councils and other agencies, from as far south as Hinchinbrook, will take to the roads around Cook Shire this week to arrest and contain the growing threat of Gamba Grass across the region.

“It’s the first time we’ve seen a collaboration of this kind up here, where councils are teaming up to try and stamp out this weed which is affecting Northern Queensland,” Cape York NRM’s Coastal Esosystems Coordinator, Dave Preece said.

“In the Annan/Endeavour catchment and parts of the Normanby catchment the outbreak is growing and if we delay treatment it will get out of hand.”

Hosted by Cook Shire Council and Cape York NRM, the team was created under the Far North Regional Association of Councils taskforce model - essentially, strength in unity.

Made up of nine teams of two or more people, the taskforce will spray public roadsides, reserves, and private landholdings where permission is granted, over three full days.

“It’s a big operation, with a lot of planning and logistics involved,” Dave said. “We’ve been doing our part by hosting meetings to plan where we’ll spray, and we’ll be providing accommodation, meals, etc, for those travelling to Cooktown.”

Others involved in the project include South Cape York Catchments, Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service, Biosecurity Queensland, Traditional Owners, and private landholders.

So why target Gamba Grass?

It’s a fast growing, invasive plant species which can overrun local ecosystems and fuel fires with intensities well above that posed by native vegetation.

Despite its status as a restricted invasive plant under the Biosecurity Act 2014, annual roadside treatment and previous education campaigns, the spread of gamba grass is increasing and continues to have a relatively low profile in Cape York.

“We’re hoping that with this Project, Gamba Grass will not only be reduced, but it will be the start of a more coordinated approach to monitoring and control efforts,” Dave said. “More broadly, we hope it will raise the awareness and impacts of the grass in the wider community and encourage residents to manage the species as a routine land management practice.”

The Coordinated Gamba Grass Management Project is funded by the Australian Government's Reef Trust.