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Weeds forum opens up dialogue

Landholders, government agencies and businesses attended at forum in Broken Hill this month where it was confirmed that mesquite occupies an estimated 680,000ha of land throughout the Western Local Region.

Manager Land Services – South, Katrina Gepp said forum participants learnt that there are
substantial infestations of mesquite along the Darling River and that it covers an area from
Wentworth in the south to Wilcannia in the east and Tibooburra in the north. 

The forum discussed the current status of mesquite (Prosopis spp) and cactus (Opuntia spp
and Cylindropuntia spp). 

"This was a landholder-initiated event, driven by local concerns about the weed problem and a
desire to find help and support to address the issue," Ms Gepp said. 

"Mesquite and cactus are nationally-recognised weeds that have a detrimental effect on both
environmental health and agricultural production. 

"There was a consensus of opinion in the room that the meeting was a step in the right direction,
with immediate action identified." 

Landholders at the forum were joined by representatives from organisations including Perilya
Mines, Enviro Control Australia, Broken Hill City Council, the Western Lands Commission and
the Department of Primary industries. 

"Since the 1970s, government bodies have played an active role in the control of mesquite and
cactus through both education and awareness programs, as well as substantial financial
investment in on-ground works," Ms Gepp said. 

Concerns identified by the group included the long-term risk in relying on ongoing government
investment and the need to leverage strategic, targeted investment. 

"There was general agreement that weed management programs must be put in place and
carried out by individual landholders. 

"However, landholders need the support of all relevant stakeholders and an agreed strategy that
incorporates access to government funding, when it becomes available. 

"We discussed all the treatment options – from chemical control to fire, mechanical control,
exclusion fencing, projects by Landcare groups and awareness campaigns." 

Actions identified that will be undertaken by Local Lands Services Western Region include developing a draft strategic management plan and seeking comment from stakeholders  and organising a follow-up meeting with all identified stakeholders to lead the implementation
of strategic management plan. 

To find out more or be included on the mailing list for the next meeting, contact Mitchell Plumb
08 8082 5204 or Storm Carney 08 8087 3378.

Media contact:
Donna Ambler 0400 258 690
Katrina Gepp 0428 268 925