World

Desperate effort to control invasive African Gamba grass before Northern Territory bushfire season

Desperate effort to control invasive African Gamba grass – which burns 10 times hotter than native species and creates 6metre-tall walls of flame – before bushfire season

  • The Northern Territory is ramping up its battle against an invasive African grass
  • Gamba grass burns 10 times hotter than native species, grows up to 6metres tall
  • It has invaded 1.5m hectares of rural properties, crown land, yards and parks
  • Gamba grass can take over whole ecosystems in as little as five years 










The Northern Territory is ramping up its battle against an invasive African grass ahead of the upcoming Top End bushfire season.

Gamba grass burns 10 times hotter than native grass species and can grow up to six metres tall, creating uncontrollable fires if it catches alight.

‘Gamba is a major issue for the Top End,’ Environment Minister Eva Lawler told reporters on Wednesday.

The Northern Territory is ramping up its battle against an invasive African grass ahead of the upcoming Top End bushfire season

The Northern Territory is ramping up its battle against an invasive African grass ahead of the upcoming Top End bushfire season

‘It has spread right across the Territory. It’s a terrible weed and it needs to be managed because when it burns it burns ferociously.’

For northern Australia the peak bushfire period is during the dry season, which is generally throughout winter and spring.

Introduced in the 1930s as cattle feed, the grass flourishes in the northern Australian wet season and could infest areas from Broome to Cairns.

It has invaded rural properties, crown land, backyards and parks in the NT, including about 25 per cent Litchfield National Park.

‘We can find up to 80 per cent coverage at some rural properties. We found one specimen that was about six metres tall and it’s quite thick,’ environmental management consultant Geoff Niere said.

‘So managing that from a fire risk and environmental perspective is paramount.’

The NT government has tasked Mr Niere’s land management team with clearing Gamba grass from vulnerable and elderly Territorians’ homes on Darwin’s outskirts.

‘They’re really in need of some support out there in the community,’ he said.

Gamba grass burns 10 times hotter than native grass species and can grow up to six metres tall, creating uncontrollable fires if it catches alight

Gamba grass burns 10 times hotter than native grass species and can grow up to six metres tall, creating uncontrollable fires if it catches alight

The program is part of a broader attack on the grass that includes the Gamba Army, a seasonal workforce focused on controlling the weed, as opposed to eliminating it.

‘We know that Gamba cannot be eradicated across the Top End but we do need to manage it,’ Ms Lawler said.

About 1.5million hectares of land in the Darwin area have already been overrun with new infestations discovered throughout the savanna region from remote Arnhem land to Groote Eylandt, in the Gulf of Carpentaria.

The grass is also spreading south through Batchelor and Katherine, including into the Nitmiluk National Park.

Environmental group Gamba Grass Roots says the NT government needs to do more to stop the spread of the noxious grass, which can take over whole ecosystems in as little as five years, according to a recent study.

‘If we lose Litchfield to Gamba we’ll lose a tourism icon and natural jewel,’ NT manager Mitch Hart told AAP.

‘The government needs to commit enough money to fix this problem. We need more people paid to be out spraying, burning and slashing the grass.’

For northern Australia the peak bushfire period is during the dry season, which is generally throughout winter and spring

For northern Australia the peak bushfire period is during the dry season, which is generally throughout winter and spring


Source link

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button