Judy Edwards

Judy Edwards

Former Minister for the Environment; Science

    Kimberley rubber vine infestation

    21/12/2005 12:00 AM

    The State Government today announced that it had started a campaign against rubber vine in the Kimberley, after an infestation of the potentially devastating weed was found near Derby in Western Australia’s north.

    The Department of Agriculture and the Department of Conservation and Land Management (CALM) have begun an intense search and spraying campaign after the plant, which is recognised as a weed of national significance, was found near a camping area adjacent to the Willare Bridge on the Fitzroy River.

    Environment Minister Judy Edwards said the woody perennial vine was an introduced species which originated in Madagascar and was first reported in Australia in Queensland in the late 19th century.

    “The vine aggressively colonises areas, forming impenetrable thickets that smother vegetation,” Dr Edwards said.

    “It has the potential to impact on native ecosystems, primary industry and tourism.

    “The heaviest infestation is within a kilometre downstream of the bridge and searches are under way to determine its full extent.

    “So far, we know the infestation covers an area of at least 270ha, at various densities, adjacent to the Fitzroy River.”

    The Minister said investigations were continuing to identify all owners of infested land. Under the Agriculture and Related Resources Protection Act, it was the responsibility of the landholder to control infestations.

    “CALM is providing significant resources to search surrounding areas and destroy isolated plants, while the Department of Agriculture is providing advice on control and spraying of the core infestation,” Dr Edwards said.

    “Through this co-operative and co-ordinated approach, attempts will be made to eradicate the infestation within two years and keep the affected area under surveillance for another three.”

    Rubber vine effects can include:
    • choking native vegetation, damaging native ecosystems and decreasing biodiversity;
    • preventing access by both stock and native animals to water;
    • harbouring feral animals such as wild pigs;
    • increasing the difficulty in mustering of livestock;
    • loss of pasture and grazing land; and
    • increasing the risk of erosion due to decreased ground cover.
    “We would ask people to keep an eye out for unusual plants when camping in WA and also to ensure they clean their trailers, caravans, tents and other equipment before moving on,” Dr Edwards said.

    “This will help prevent the spread and introduction of exotic pests to WA.”

    Further information on the identification, control and prevention of weeds can be obtained from the Department of Agriculture website http://www.agric.wa.gov.au

    Minister's office - 9220 5050