Rangelands NRM assisted the ‘Care for Hedland’ community volunteers to run a weeding weekend on Yarrie Station in the DeGray catchment on 15-16 September 2012. Also involved in the weekend work were some teenagers from Hedland involved in a ‘Prevention and Diversion’ programme of the Pilbara Regional Youth Services, Department of Corrective Services. The Care for Hedland volunteer group is supported by BHP Billiton.
Twenty volunteers targeted the weed Parkinsonia aculeate along a 4km section of the DeGray river bank near the Yarrie homestead. Parkinsonia is a Weed of National Significance (WONS) and a national priority for weed control. There were also some Ricinus communis (Castor oil plants) and Calotropis procera (Rubber bush) found during the weekend and destroyed.
The Parkinsonia was controlled by pruning plants back to the stump and then spraying the stump with Roundup. The pruned limbs were then used to pack erosion gully’s using an approach based on Peter Andrews system of Natural Sequence Farming. Peter had recently run a Natural Sequence Farming field day on Yarrie Station, and management, together with other DeGray stations, are keen to implement Peter Andrews’ ideas but are still busy mustering.
Rangelands NRM staff member, Tim Wiley, explained the Peter Andrews approach to the volunteers, and how the Parkinsonia branches could be used to control erosion on the river flood plain. The aim was to pack the pruning into active erosion gully’s to slow the water, trap sediment and recreate the natural chain of pods in the landscape. This approach to using weeds is an example of turning a problem into a solution.
The weekend exercise by the volunteers was the first example of Peter Andrews approach being put in to action in the Pilbara. While it was a small scale trial, both the volunteers and the Yarrie staff are keen to see how well the gully packing will work over the coming wet season.
Rangelands NRM will hold a workshop with Yarrie, DeGray and Warrawagine Stations after mustering to plan how to implement the Peter Andrews concept across the whole of the DeGray catchment. The Care for Hedland volunteers said they enjoyed the weekend immensely and want to be involved again next year. The young people involved were also enthusiastic workers and their program managers would like to make this sort field trip a regular event.
By the end of the weekend the volunteers had a few aches and pains, but all felt the satisfaction of making their own contribution to looking after the land was worth the effort.
For more information contact Tim Wiley.