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Media Release
Federal Minister for the Environment and Heritage
The Hon Dr David Kemp, MP

03 June 2002

Weeds Threatening Australia's Coasts - Australians Urged to Help


Federal Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Dr David Kemp and Australian basketballer Andrew Gaze today have issued a warning that coastal weeds are threatening our coastline and called on Australians to help.

"Invasive weeds costs the community $3 billion annually, with 10 new weed species establishing themselves each year," Dr Kemp said in the lead up to World Environment Day on 5 June.

"Coastal weeds, such as Lantana, are one of the most serious and expensive threats to Australia's coastal biodiversity. Weeds compete aggressively with native plants for nutrients, light and moisture. As a result, noxious weeds are threatening our native animals and birds, which rely on native plants for their food and shelter. They are changing the ecological balance."

Dr Kemp added, "Two-thirds of Australia's coastal weeds originate in home gardens and are spread by water, wind, birds or people."

Many of the weeds that affect coasts such as the Glory Lily, Bridal Creeper, Singapore Daisy, Agapanthus and Lantana are attractive and were introduced as ornamental plants for Australian gardens.

Lantana with its pretty flowers, purple-black berries and aromatic leaves had a respectable beginning as a formal hedge. However, once it escaped its garden confines it went wild, scrambling and climbing through coastal rainforests and gullies.

"Lantana is now believed to infest four million hectares of coastal land in Australia from North Queensland around the Daintree to the south of Sydney around Ulladulla," Dr Kemp said.

"Many Coastcare groups are battling to control Lantana so that native plants can return to coastal areas through weed removal, the planting of native species specific to the region and long term maintenance of revegetation sites.

"With a little effort and thought, we can reduce the spread of invasive weeds."

Coastcare Ambassador, Andrew Gaze said there were several things people could do to help control coastal weeds.

"People can help control weeds by doing simple things such as not dumping garden clippings which may contain seeds, onto dunes or bushland areas and not washing clippings down stormwater drains which lead to the beach and ocean," Mr Gaze said.

"If you are disposing of seed heads, stems or bulbs, dispose of them in a plastic garbage bag where they can't spread. Gardeners can minimise the spread of weeds along our coastline by being aware of local weeds and avoiding planting species that can become pests in local areas."

National Coastcare Coordinator, Anna-Lisa Hayes said weeds are spreading along our coastline faster than they can be controlled.

"Coastcare groups are making an extraordinary effort to control and eventually eradicate weeds but we need many more helping hands," Ms Hayes said.

Coastcare is a program of the Howard Government's Natural Heritage Trust, in partnership with State/Territory and Local Governments.

Around $15 million has been provided through the Trust to engage in a range of work, including protection and rehabilitation of dunes, estuaries, wetlands, coastal headlands and cultural sites, monitoring lagoon water quality, beach conditions, coastal flora and fauna and resource usage, construction of paths, boardwalks and interpretive trails, and community involvement in developing local regional coastal management plans.

For more information about Coastcare or to join a Coastcare group, call Environment Australia's Community Information Unit on 1800 803 772 or visit the Environment Australian web site at: www.ea.gov.au/coasts/coastcare

Media contacts:
Catherine Job Dr Kemp's office (02) 6277 7640 or 0408 648 400
Gavin Atkins Landcare Australia Ltd (02) 9412 1040 or 0407 007 057

Commonwealth of Australia