Land managers from across the Kimberley met last month in Broome for the inaugural Kimberley Regional Weed Forum.
More than 60 participants gathered on 27 February to discuss regional weed priorities and strategies, mapping of regional weed distributions, consideration of a Kimberley database, as well as sharing and awareness of resources and legislation.
The 2015 Forum was organised by Environs Kimberley, Rangelands NRM, Department of Agriculture and Food WA (DAFWA), Ord Land & Water Inc., Kimberley Land Council, Department of Parks and Wildlife (DPaW) and the West Kimberley Rubber Vine Eradication Program.
Environs Kimberley ‘Kimberley Nature Project’ Coordinator, Ilse Pickard said the day was jam-packed, beginning with updates from organisations from all over the Kimberley with many participants travelling long distances to attend.
Linda Anderson from the Pilbara Mesquite Management Committee (PMMC) described the PMMC’s impressive effort to engage all land managers in the Pilbara region to work collaboratively and achieve big results. Her advice was to stay dedicated, keep good people, remain flexible, use alliances, and communicate your story.
Dr Judy Fisher from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) working group on Indigenous communities and invasive species, attended the World Parks Congress late last year and reported that invasive plants and animals are the biggest threat to protected areas around the globe.
Greg Keighery from DPaW’s Science and Conservation Division, also presented.
A ‘Mapping Regional Weed Distribution’ session was facilitated by Kay Bailey from DAFWA. Ms Bailey had gathered Kimberley data into one map, so gaps could be identified. She explained that mapping was important to show the extent of weed infestations, to see patterns in weed distribution, to assist project planning, to provide a record of change, and as a reporting tool (e.g. for funding bodies).
Bruce Webber from CSIRO in Perth told the group that a state-wide, accessible database was being created by DPaW and CSIRO. It was agreed that the Kimberley needs a coordinated database system that can be accessed and contributed to by weed managers.
“There was heated discussion during the day, and the section on Weed Prioritisation raised questions about classification,” Ms Pickard said.
Participants voted the ‘Top 5’ weeds of concern in the Kimberley to be: 1. Neem (Azadirachta indica), 2. Rubber Vine (Cryptostegia grandiflora), 3. Stinking passionflower (Passiflora foetida), 4. Grader Grass (Themeda quadrivalvis) and 5. Rubber Bush (Calotropis procera and C. gigantea).
Ms Pickard said many organisations have their own priority lists; the consensus was that these lists could help determine sub-regional priorities for management. However, national weed priorities are not particularly relevant to the Kimberley.
“We had great feedback from the day, particularly how valuable it was to hear what’s going on across the region, which groups are doing what, where and how. Many stakeholders had no idea that much work was being done in the Kimberley,” Ms Pickard said.
It was agreed that we need to better promote our weed management activities at local and national levels.
The Forum recognised the shortage of resources, and the need for weed managers to communicate results to decision-makers at all levels. As a result of the Forum, sub-regional committees will work towards resolving issues and actions identified on the day, and we will meet again in a year’s time at the next Forum.