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Weed eradication to continue with further funding

The fight to tackle notorious plant Tropical Soda Apple is set to continue with a successful bid for further funding by Northern Tablelands Local Land Services.

Tropical Soda Apple, a high risk weed on the north coast which can quickly spread to other regions, is an aggressive, prickly shrub that readily invades riverside and pasture areas. The plant is listed as State Eradication and has a Control Order placed on it under the NSW Biosecurity Act.

Northern Tablelands Local Land Services in partnership with the New England Weeds Authority have been specifically targeting Tropical Soda Apple since 2013.

Jonathan Lawson, Northern Tablelands Local Land Services Regional Weeds Coordinator, is delighted that the funding is set to continue over the next year. The eradication program is funded with $40,000 from the NSW Government and a further $50,000 from the Australian Government’s 2018 Pest and Weed Drought Funding Program.

“We are extremely grateful for this ongoing investment. It is positive to see this joint partnership between all tiers of government, landholders, Local Land Services and the New England Weeds Authority” said Jonathan.

A Regional Rapid Response Team has been established to find and destroy the plant along the river banks of the Macleay River.  Landholders are expected to fulfil their obligations through compliance and engagement in the eradication of the plant in areas beyond the river.

“The program takes a whole of catchment approach.  We are working closely with our North Coast Local Land Services neighbours as well as the Kempsey Shire Council, in the eradication of this plant.

“The program is focused on containing the spread of infestation from moving downstream.  While it currently appears to be contained in the Northern Tablelands area of the Upper Macleay Valley, we are determined to see it eradicated completely,” said Jonathan.

While Northern Tablelands Local Land Services are carrying out the work required in the river areas, it acknowledges the difficulties landholders face in controlling infestations.

Tropical Soda Apple is easy to destroy however landholders need to remain vigilant in continuously suppressing plant growth.

“We are encouraging landholders to control the plant and reduce its spread, particularly through cattle movements as they are the main vectors of spread.

“We understand from studies undertaken at the University of Florida, that there shouldn’t be any viable seed after ten years. The key to eradication is to find and destroy each generation that germinates. This stops the plant from producing fruit and setting seed. Then it’s a matter of wearing down the seed bed.  That’s what the Northern Tablelands Local Land Services program has achieved over the last seven years of the project.

“The majority of landholders are to be commended for their investment in the program and the vigilance they have demonstrated in attempting to eradicate the plant. We would like to see this continue,” said Jonathan.

For more information about the Tropical Soda Apple eradication program, contact Jonathan Lawson on 0429 914 207.

Media contact: Annabelle Monie on 0429 626 326