Residents urged not to go alone in bitou removal

A recent ‘people power’ attack on bitou bush at South Golden Beach as a protest against aerial spraying has created additional problems, according to Byron Council.

The council’s natural resources team leader, Scott Hetherington, said a significant amount of the bitou bush had not had enough root material removed to kill the plants, and it would now actually result in increased regrowth.

“Similarly the bitou bush has been stockpiled on top of existing native regeneration sites that are part of ongoing works by council, contractors and Dunecare volunteers,” he said.

“We will now have to remove these piles to ensure that the native species under them do not perish.”

Mr Hetherington urged concerned people to join recognised organisations such as Landcare and Dunecare, instead of tackling the issue themselves.

He said native plant species were also removed and found dumped in the refuse piles on top of already regenerated areas.

“Some of the dumped bitou bushes contained seeds and they may re-infect a previously bitou-free site,” he said.

“Unfortunately this creates an additional maintenance issue beyond what is planned for when scheduling primary treatment of weeds.”

Mr Hetherington went on to say the soil disturbance and general trampling resulting from the weekend was far more than regeneration techniques employed by the council, and it was likely to aggravate weed growth in the area.

He said spraying allowed for the dead bitou bush to provide a stabilised mat under which the native seed bank could regenerate and push its way up to the sunlight.

In helping to address some of these issues, Mr Hetherington said Landcare and Dunecare groups provided training in appropriate weed management techniques and the handling of tools and equipment.

“The organisations also assist with weed and plant identification and work in conjunction with council’s shire-wide strategy in targeting weeds,” he said.

“The working groups are a strategic and co-ordinated approach that helps us join neighbouring shires to improve biodiversity values.

“A weed management program run by a recognised group allows Byron Shire Council to notify people on our chemical sensitive and organic grower’s register of the proposed works in order to minimise disturbance to neighbouring landholders.

“There are also concerns associated with occupational health and safety of the volunteers which is addressed through involvement with authorised Dunecare and Landcare groups.”

 Community members wishing to be involved in weed management on public lands should contact the Landcare Community Support Officer, Wendy Gibney on 6626 7028.

Due to weather conditions, the planned bitou bush aerial spray last Wednesday north of the Brunswick River was cancelled.

Alternative dates will be advised once confirmed.

Byron Shire Council’s Register of Chemical Sensitive Residents and Organic Growers can be found at www.byron.nsw.gov.au/pesticide.

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