NSW: No Space for Weeds

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 MidCoast Council manages a comprehensive weed management program across the region and is a member of the Mid North Coast Weeds Advisory Committee.  Visit our Weed Management page for general information about our work in this vital area.

Click on the tabs below to read about current initiatives and special projects where we need your help to manage weeds in the MidCoast.

Weed officers are calling on all local residents to check their home aquariums and ponds after the July discovery of the Amazon Frogbit aquatic weed near Forster triggered an emergency response to control the spread of the weed.

"This is the first time Amazon Frogbit has been found in a natural area in NSW (see the photo above) and is a significant find. The weed is classed as Prohibited Matter under the new Biosecurity Act 2015 and as a result an emergency response is now underway. Council is working closely with Hunter Local Land Services, the National Parks and Wildlife Service and the NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI)" said Council's Strategic Weeds Biosecurity Officer Terry Inkson.

"Various activities have been implemented including a first pass treatment of the infestation and private property inspections in the immediate vicinity" said Terry.

Amazon Frogbit originates from fresh water habitats of tropical and subtropical Central and South America. Although in the early stages of establishment in Australia, these weeds have the potential to seriously degrade Australia’s ecosystems if left untreated.

The weed was found when a local bushwalker emailed Council photographs of a suspicious plant growing on a secluded pond in bushland near Forster. Council officers immediately followed up with an onsite visit and upon closer inspection the plant was confirmed to be Amazon Frogbit.

In Australia, the weed is often purchased illegally online, on sites such as Gumtree and eBay, by unsuspecting aquarium owners and can spread to natural waterways accidentally or via deliberate dumping of garden and aquarium waste.

"We're calling on local aquarium owners and those who have ponds or dams on their properties to assist us over the next few weeks to help eradicate Frogbit from our local area" says Terry. "If you suspect you might have found Amazon Frogbit, please contact us at once, on 6591 7222 for advice and a meeting.

There are extremely heavy fines for offences committed under the Biosecurity Act 2015. Even purchasing prohibited plants online could place you at risk. "However, we're more interested in locating and destroying this serious weed than penalising people who may have been unaware they were committing an offence" says Terry.

With this in mind, we are announcing an amnesty for anyone who calls us before 31 August 2017 - we will not fine you if you report the weed and all calls will be treated as confidential.

We advise consumers to "do your homework" before purchasing any plant online, as you could be purchasing prohibited matter.

Below: The Amazon Frogbit plant.

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While aerial spraying for weeds can raise fears for some people, it's part of a long established, regulated and approved program to help control weeds and protect our environment.  

The aerial spraying program for bitou bush has been in place for over a decade on the Mid North Coast and is a joint program between the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service and MidCoast Council and is undertaken to protect threatened plant and animal species and endangered ecological communities that occur along the coastal strip.

The program is implemented following the ‘Best Practice Guidelines for Aerial Spraying of Bitou Bush in New South Wales’ published by the Department of Environment and Conservation.

"Aerial spraying of herbicides from helicopters has been identified as being the most effective solution to manage bitou bush in steep or inaccessible sections of the coast including vast and remote stretches of beaches and headlands" says Council's Strategic Weeds Biosecurity Officer, Terry Inkson. 

"Volunteers do a great job of assisting with manual removal of bitou bush, however other methods are necessary to target areas where it is too dangerous to send people to treat the weed.

"It's necessary to use a range of treatment methods to effectively control bitou bush. Aerial spraying is just one facet of a comprehensive integrated program, with other methods including bush regeneration techniques, physical controls, mechanical controls (including the use of fire), low and high volume spraying, and biological controls" said Terry Inkson.

Previous efforts over the past decade have seen a huge reduction of mature bitou bush in managed areas, however ongoing treatments are necessary to prevent reinfestation. At Hawks Nest alone, mature bitou bush has been reduced by around 96% allowing re-establishment of local native species since aerial treatments commenced in 2007.

Recent public comments by concerned residents about the chemicals used are also somewhat misleading, due to misinterpretation of technical data.  

"While we understand that people are always concerned about the use of chemicals in the environment, and rightly so, Council does not use chemicals unless they are approved for such use by relevant authorities and do so in accordance with best practice management guidelines, to ensure maximum efficiencies and safety" said Terry Inkson.

"For general community safety, as a precautionary measure, Council needs to implement buffer zones by restricting access to certain areas on beaches and in the water when this activity is occurring.  This is why we place signage and clear the areas for the duration of the activities" explains Terry. 

If you have concerns about the coastal aerial spraying program, please view our FAQs sheet(PDF, 4MB).

If your question isn't answered there, you can ask our expert staff using the form below. We'll get back to you as soon as possible with a response.

Click here to view form.