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The Hon Peter Garrett AM MP
Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts

New guide to tackle Bitou bush weed threat

Media release
23 January 2009

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Minister for the Environment Peter Garrett today launched the new Bitou bush management manual at La Perouse, on Sydney's south-eastern coastline.

Mr Garrett said the aggressive coastal weed bitou bush was one of 20 Weeds of National Significance (WoNS) and could out-compete or even totally eliminate native flora. In addition, the weed, which has invaded 80 per cent of the New South Wales coastline, could threaten the habitat of native fauna such as the eastern bristlebird, little tern and beach stone curlew.

La Perouse is home to the endangered ecological community Eastern Suburbs Banksia Scrub. This community of native species once occupied about 5300 ha between North Head and Botany Bay in the Sydney Basin Bioregion. Due to various threats including the invasion of exotic species like bitou bush and lantana, only 146 ha of the Eastern Suburbs Banksia Scrub remains on small pockets of land.

"Weeds like bitou bush pose a serious threat to Australia's native flora and fauna, but also to our primary industry. In fact, weeds are estimated to cost more than $3.4 billion to Australian agriculture every year," Mr Garrett said.

"In New South Wales alone, bitou bush invasion threatens more than 150 native plant species, three endangered plant populations, and 24 ecological communities. Bitou bush can also overtake access tracks, reducing the appeal of our beaches to visitors and locals alike."

"That's why it's so important we tackle weeds head-on with careful management strategies. The Bitou bush management manual, jointly funded by the Australian Government and the New South Wales Department of Environment and Climate Change, will give community volunteers and weed management professionals the most current information on best practice management of this nationally significant weed."

Mr Garrett praised the efforts of local governments, community volunteers, Landcare, Coastcare and Bushcare groups, along with National Parks volunteers, who invested more than $5.8 million in managing bitou bush in 2007/08. In the same period, the Australian Government invested more than $1.3 million towards this Weeds of National Significance program.

The Weeds of National Significance are 20 key weed species agreed by the Australian and all state and territory governments as the priority species for nationally coordinated action based on their invasiveness, potential to spread and environmental and socio-economic impacts.

Commonwealth of Australia