Wednesday, 11 April 2012

American blackberry restrained by South West buffer zone

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blackberry“The answer has been to use science to identify that not all blackberry is the same and use a geographic separation of the species, along with the biological control agent for the common European blackberry to make an asset.”—Mr Reeves. Image: Michael KangACCORDING to a recent report, treatment used in preventing the spread of American blackberry (Rubus laudatus) in the South West has been a success.

The report into the Blackberry Buffer Zone—also known as the Blackberry Containment Line—shows that measures taken to treat the weed are working.

The containment zone, first established in 2007, runs 100km between Australind and Darkan and was identified by the West Australian Department of Agriculture and Food (DAFWA) and the CSIRO as the best place to put a buffer zone to prevent the weed from moving south.

The report, Review of the Blackberry Buffer Zone, by DAFWA Development Officer Andrew Reeves and colleagues, suggests the buffer zone has been successful in preventing the southward spread of the American blackberry.

“The success has come down to two main achievements—the first relates to the control of the blackberry and the second, community ownership of the project,” he says.

According to Mr Reeves, good science was used to provide strategic control of the weed, make the project value-for-money and identify the key areas where the project could have the best effect.

“The answer has been to use science to identify that not all blackberry is the same and use a geographic separation of the species, along with the biological control agent for the common European blackberry to make an asset,” he says.

This is unique in that we have made a buffer zone that is in itself a valuable asset in the fight against weed spread.”

The review of the buffer zone has also lead to speculation that it could be used to treat other weed species along rivers in the northern wheat belt.

“A buffer zone could also be used along rivers in the north wheat belt - as climate change could make it possible for large woody weeds like Mesquite, Parkinsonia and Acacia nilotica, to venture towards the South West,” says Mr Reeve.

For the period from 2009 to 2011, funding allowed for more than 350 hectares within the buffer zone to be identified and treated.

This funding allowed for contract weed sprayers to come in or herbicides to be provided to private land owners, as well as community workshops held by the South West Catchments Council (SWCC) to increase awareness of the importance of the buffer zone and the control of blackberry.

Current funding is due to last until 2013-14, where it is anticipated a review will be conducted to report on the any new findings.

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