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Taskforce returns for Gamba attack

A convoy of utes driven by representatives from local councils and other agencies will attack the grass found at properties, roadsides and reserves as a continued, coordinated response to managing the species.

“This year’s work builds on the first task force collaboration last May,” Cape York NRM’s Coastal Ecosystems Coordinator Dave Preece said. “It will cover areas around the Annan/Endeavour catchment, and adjoining sections of the Jeannie and Normanby catchments.”

Groups involved in the task force come from the Far North Queensland Regional Organisation of Councils (FNQROC) which includes members from the Hinchinbrook, Cook, Mareeba, Douglas and the Tableland shires, in addition to crews from Biodiversity Queensland, Queensland Department of Resources, Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service, Jabalbina Rangers and Balnggarrawarra Rangers.

“Cook Shire Council officers have been given consent by participating owner/occupiers for us to enter properties to treat gamba grass during the taskforce period,” Darryn Higgins, the Biosecurity and Local Laws Manager at the Cook Shire Council, said.

“We had a terrific response last year and the treatment and presence of crews really brought the issue of Gamba Grass to the public’s attention. This year will be no exception.”

Gamba grass is a fast-growing, invasive plant species with the potential to transform local ecosystems and fuel fires with intensities well above that posed by other exotic grasses.

Despite its status as a restricted invasive plant under the Biosecurity Act 2014, annual roadside treatment and previous education campaigns, gamba grass is still commonly found within the Annan/Endeavour catchments.

“Our intention is to expand on last year’s momentum by increasing awareness and reducing the distribution of gamba grass across the catchment,” Darryn said.

“With the help of Cape York NRM, we can continue to host these events and bring in like-minded agencies, pool resources and ensure a cost-effective response.”

Between Tuesday 18 and Thursday 20 April, treatment crews will be allocated specific allotments to treat gamba grass and collect GIS data.

“Having multiple crews identifying and treating gamba grass while collecting GIS data has dramatically increased existing knowledge of distribution that will be critical to future programs and ongoing monitoring,” Dave said.

“We know what this weed can do, as we’ve seen in the Northern Territory the potential it has to spread and fuel fires which impact infrastructure and threaten lives.

“We don’t want a repeat of that here.”

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

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