Rangelands NRM Blog, News & Resources

Rubbervine eradicated from fairy wren habitat

[August 2014]

Recent work to eradicate a rubbervine infestation along the Adcock River will assist with the survival of the EPBC-listed Purple-crowned Fairy Wren.

Through funding from Rangelands NRM, the WA Department of Agriculture and Food (DAFWA) worked with the Wunggurr Rangers to control and survey occurrences of ‘Ornamental rubbervine’ (Cryptostegia madagascariensis) from the Adcock River close to Mt. House station homestead in the Kimberley.

An area covering approximately 48.9 hectares was surveyed and over 553 plants were found and controlled using the cut & swab method with chemical œVigilent, a Picloram Gel.

Seeding plants were cut down and seed pods collected to be disposed of by DAFWA. Approximately 11 seeding plants were found with one plant having 306 seed pods.

Mt. House Station is within the Wilinggin Indigenous Protection Area (IPA). The Wunggurr Rangers are learning to control weeds in this area and are currently completing Certificates in Conservation and Land Management.

Invasive Species Biosecurity Officer for DAFWAbased at Kununurra, Tracey Vinnicombe, said the rubbervine/Purple Crowned Fairy Wren Habitat protection project has allowed for training and assessment in a number of components towards their Certificates.

“This has included weed identification, mapping, best practice and control as well as training in use of a GPS to collect data,” she said.

A weed management plan will be organised by the station with DAFWA, to assist in follow up controls protecting the Purple Crowned Fairy Wrens precious habitat.

Plants had already released some seed this year and follow up should occur after the next wet season, Ms Vinnicombe said.

Ms Vinnicombe said the control was very successful, however, follow-up will need to be done for the next two years ensuring that seed already on the ground will be controlled once it germinates, and to follow up on any missed plants.

Along the Adcock close to the house was most probably the original area where the plant occurred and was most dense, otherwise plants were scattered across three paddocks to the west of the house. Other plants were found to have spread downstream on the Adcock inside the Riparian zone.

No other Weeds of National Significance were found except for low numbers of Parkinsonia, known to occur in larger densities further downstream.

“With the assistance of a talented Ranger, Derek Smith, we were able to call up the Purple-crowned Fairy Wrens and get some good photos,” Ms Vinnicombe said.

Although no nests were located we did see pairs of birds and in total, four wren sightings were recorded.

“We would like to thank the Mt House station and staff for making us very welcome and sharing knowledge. The Rangers look forward to being on country again and working in with Pastoralists,” Ms Vinnicombe said.

Rangelands NRM Project Manager (Kimberley) Kira Andrews said station owners, with assistance from DAFWA have increased their capability to continue the control and prepare a weed management plan to assist with management of the station as a whole.

There are more eyes on the ground for surveillance, and the Wunggurr rangers are now trained, and willing to work in with the pastoralist.

Helicopter pilots and station staff have also been shown the Ornamental rubbervine plant and understand its significance in relation to the Purple Crowned Fairy Wrens habitat.
Ornamental Rubbervine (Cryptostegia madagascariensis) that was treated at Mt House is different to the more virulent Rubbervine (Cryptostegia grandiflora) which has infestations at Willare and Lake Argyle.

1 – Ranger Dean Smith and Ranger coordinator Danyel Wolff (©TVinnicombe)
2 – There were four sightings of the Purple-crowned Fairy Wren (©TVinnicombe)