A unique South West environmental program has been recognised as a leading model for strategic weed management around Australia.
The South West Catchments Council and the Leschenault Catchment Council were awarded the Biodiversity Conservation Award at the 2012 WA Environment Awards last week for the Blackberry Buffer Zone project.
The Blackberry Buffer Zone is a 6km wide buffer which runs from Australind to Darkan designed to stop the American blackberry weed from becoming established south of the buffer where it is being treated for eradication.
Leschenault Catchment Council project officer Beren Spencer said American blackberry caused agricultural and recreational problems.
“It grows a great deal on rivers and makes them inaccessible to people who like fishing or swimming,” Mr Spencer said.
“From an economic point of view, it reduces the productivity of land.”
Mr Spencer said the project had proved the strategy worked well when the distribution of a weed was known.
“We’ve worked really hard on this project and it’s nice to get some recognition,” he said.
The Blackberry Buffer Zone is run in collaboration with industry and community groups including BHP Worsley Alumina, the Department of Environment and Conservation, the Shire of Collie, the Shire of Harvey and the Department of Agriculture and Food.
Department of Agriculture and Food development officer Andrew Reeves said the American blackberry was concerning because there were no known bio-control agents.
“They are a transformer species which destroy natural vegetation and attract pest species such as rabbits and foxes,” he said.
“Blackberries thrive in waterways and creek systems, which can block access for native animals and stock.”
In the past five years the LCC, SWCC and Department of Agriculture and Food have treated more than 450ha of blackberry infestations and 83,000 seedlings have been planted to increase the resilience of waterways to infestation.
Without the project it would cost landowners $1000 and about 5000 plants to rehabilitate each hectare.
The project impressed the judges of the 2012 WA Environment Awards for its demonstrated results in conserving the State’s biodiversity.
The project was also commended for its strong community and volunteer involvement.