Farm Management

South West pest management efforts receive helping hand

Leschenault Biosecurity Group committee member Mike Bell with cotton bush that he hand-pulled in the Ferguson Valley. Image provided by the WA Government

Landholders in the Leschenault region are set to benefit from enhanced pest management efforts by a local community group following its recent formal recognition.

The Leschenault Biosecurity Group, supported by the WA Department of Agriculture and Food, is made up of community volunteers who manage declared agricultural pests in the shires of Dardanup, Donnybrook, Capel and Bunbury.

In particular, the group focuses on the pest weed, narrow-leaf cotton bush (Gomphocarpus fruticosus), which competes with pastures and is toxic to livestock if eaten.

The group was recently recognised by WA Agriculture and Food Minister Alannah MacTiernan under the Biosecurity and Agriculture Management Act, 2007 (BAM Act).

Department project manager Simon Merewether congratulated the group on becoming a Recognised Biosecurity Group (RBG).

“Formal recognition represents the culmination of many years of work by the biosecurity group in liaising with their local community about the pest issues that affect it most,” Mr Merewether said.

“The status strengthens the group’s position to work with the community to better manage cotton bush and other priority declared pests in the area.

“Recognised Biosecurity Groups, in consultation with their members, can request a declared pest rate for their areas.

“Funds raised from Recognised Biosecurity Group rates are matched dollar-for-dollar by the State Government under the BAM Act and are made available to finance pest management activities.”

Leschenault Biosecurity Group executive officer Chris Howe said recognition improved the group’s legitimacy among the community.

“We are discussing with our stakeholders how we can work together to achieve effective pest management across the region,” Mr Howe said.

“We are working on a longer-term strategic plan to increase our scope to include more pests.

“While managing cotton bush has long been our main concern, we are now looking to include rabbits, foxes, Paterson’s curse (Echium plantagineum) and some other weeds as priority species for the group.

“We are also working on more community engagement activities, including increasing our online presence.”

The Department is supporting the process through its Transforming regional biosecurity response sub-project, as part of the Boosting Biosecurity Defences project, supported by Royalties for Regions.

Source: WA Government

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