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The weed war continues

THE battle against the menace that is sweet pittosporum is an ongoing on, which recently received a little help.

A local group, the South West Woody Weeds Action Team, has been at the forefront of the fight against the highly-invasive weed – as well as the equally-annoying Italian buckthorn and boneseed – that has taken over roadsides and recently received a $1000 community grant from Glenelg Shire Council to further its eradication efforts.

As previously detailed in the Observer, the SWAT group consists of a small band of volunteers who are doing a great job against huge odds, but through raising awareness of the issue they hope other landholders will also take responsibility for weeds on their roadsides and help eradicate the problem.

The group’s original vision was to raise awareness of sweet pittosporum and to advocate for more action by the state government, but it has spread to a volunteer-led fight especially on weeds that surround or lead directly into native forests and parks.

SWAT president Garry Kerr said he encouraged locals to look beyond their boundary fence.

“If every landholder took responsibility for their roadside weeds and managed them annually, we could achieve some outstanding results,” he said.

“Many small local back roads are home to beautiful gums and other fantastic endemic vegetation that is currently being overrun by sweet pittosporum and Italian buckthorn.”

The SWAT group had identified local roads that were “a threat to natural assets” and dropped fliers off in letterboxes with an invitation to attend a Saturday morning working bee.

SWAT would show those interested at the working bee how to identify and control the weeds.

“Our hope is that people take the skills and knowledge back onto their properties and seek out any invaders they may have on their patch,” Mr Kerr said.

“Our second aim is for them to learn how to control the weeds on their roadside and promote natural regeneration or plant back local endemic species to create a more sustainable habitat for wildlife.

“As an incentive to landholders to support our group we are designing signs that can be a beacon of inspiration and a badge of honour for those who are working with us to implement the way we think about roadside vegetation and responsibilities.”

Local Landcare facilitator Kristy Brewer said the SWAT group was building the community’s knowledge and skills in weed identification.

“This approach is smart because once your eyes are open to the impact weeds are having locally on the loss of biodiversity, it’s hard not to feel sympathetic,” she said.

“Empowering locals to care more for their patch, including their roadside, is a great initiative and one that I hope catches on.”

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