Communities, Collaboration and Control

A collaboration between the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (DBCA) and the Peel Harvey Biosecurity Group (PHBG) led to five days of cotton bush removal in the Serpentine National Park.

The Serpentine National Park is a popular site with locals and attracts national and international tourists to the Shire of Serpentine Jarrahdale. Cotton bush is a problem weed in the National Park, particularly around the heritage-listed Spencer’s Cottage.

Over the years the PHBG has received multiple reports from the members of the public concerned about the cotton bush in the National Park. DBCA has initiated control works in the past; however, it is an ongoing battle with plants germinating from a large seed bank.

The PHBG had the opportunity to intensify weed control efforts in the Serpentine National Park through the Australian Government’s Community Environment Grant Program which allowed it to engage an Ecojobs team to remove cotton bush.

Senior park ranger, Paul Tholen, expressed that cooperation between the different stakeholders will no doubt lead to improved social and environmental outcomes in the National Park.

“This activity has the potential to make a big difference in cotton bush control in the areas surrounding the recreation and picnic facilities.

“Thanks to everyone involved for such a sterling effort,” Mr Tholen said.

According to Teele Hooper-Worrell, weed education officer for the PHBG, challenges presented by coronavirus were also overcome.

“Staff from DBCA’s Parks and Wildlife Services and Ecojobs were able to maintain social distancing requirements and still remove cotton bush.

“It’s always a great feeling when the biosecurity group can take community reports into collaboration across tenure with the result being cotton bush removal,” said Ms Hooper-Worrell.

Physical removal of the cotton bush plants was done by removing the seed pods and then pulling out the plants using tree poppers provided by the PHBG. The seeds were then placed in plastic bags for solarisation (which destroys the seed) and disposal.

The project’s focus moves now to the installation of interpretive signage to raise awareness of the project’s achievements. The signs will increase public awareness of cotton bush and the importance of its ongoing control in the Park, as well as across the broader landscape.