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Orange Hawkeed management on the Monaro

January/February 2019

Megan Wyllie Invasive Species Coordinator

Detector Dog

In the constant battle for winning the war against Orange Hawkweed, National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS), Snowy Mountains Regional Council and myself - the Local Land Services Invasive Species Coordinator - joined forces to learn all things Hawkweed in the field at Ogilvies airstrip, 2 hours from Cooma in late December.

The day, hosted by NPWS staff who are leading the eradication of Orange Hawkweed in the area, covered topics such as survey, control, hygiene and data collection in a very interesting and enlightening day.

Orange Hawkweed was brought from Europe as a decorative flower however it takes the ground over so completely, nothing else can grow. It tends to ‘mat’ and spread out and has numerous stolons that creep forward and around the patch making it very difficult to destroy. Even a small piece of hawkweed on a shoe can re-sprout in another area if walked in on boots.

This habit makes the weed prolific and able to out-compete native plants that vulnerable and endangered wildlife depend on to survive. It also poses a great risk to important agricultural land.

As December is the season for this invasive pest to flower, this demonstration day allowed us to easily spot this bright orange flowering weed. We learned how to walk, talk and identify the hawkweed as we walked in surveillance lines of 6 people.

Orange Hawkweed

The land we walked is full of tussocks and bogs and the going was slow especially when combined with holes and snakes and bending down to check under ground-cover where the weed easily hides. It certainly is a labour of love! Excitingly, the team discovered two new plants which will now be treated to halt their spread.

As an added bonus on the day, we also experienced watching the drone team survey the area and the detection dogs at work to further the chances of eradication. It was heartening to see the passion of people working in this space and the positive impact of their management of this invasive pest.

As the South East Local Land Services Invasive Species Coordinator, this demonstration day helped me understand the issues more broadly about the impacts of weeds on all Australian lands and will assist me to guide people to make better decisions about the land they manage and allow communities to be more profitable and sustainable into the future while preserving native ecosystems.

Orange Hawkweed photo - Jo Powells.