Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 11 Hansard (Wednesday, 10 November 2021) . . Page.. 3238 ..
MS VASSAROTTI: Thanks, Mr Davis, for the question. You are right; African lovegrass is probably one of our biggest threats to the grassy ecosystems in the ACT. We know it really transforms ecosystems, resulting in a loss of biodiversity and also really significant increases in fire danger. So it is one of our top three invasive plant species that we are managing and quite a lot of work is already happening in that area. For instance, in 2020-21 the gross infestation area that was treated was 1,829 hectares.
We will be using the additional funding to attack this issue using a range of control methods. We have biocontrol, prescribed burning, herbicide application, manual removal, grazing, slashing, mulching and revegetation. We have found, really excitingly, that using a combination of method means we do not need to use as much herbicide as we otherwise would.
With the recent budget allocations, we will see five new invasive species staff in a dedicated biosecurity rapid response unit, and that will really enhance the capacity of our biosecurity and rural service in its ability to coordinate, respond and manage the biosecurity threats that impact on the territory’s environmental, agricultural and social values. So absolutely African lovegrass will be a significant focus of this, and we are really looking to implement a go-hard, go-early approach, particularly for new biosecurity incursions, which aligns with best practice advice in this area.
MR DAVIS: Minister, what would you recommend to my constituents in Tuggeranong should they identify an African lovegrass outbreak?
MS VASSAROTTI: Thank you for the question.
In keeping with this go-hard, go-early approach, we are really dependent on this being a joint activity with the community. People who live in these suburbs understand their suburbs and they will detect incursions early. So they are really well placed to assist us in the task of responding to these incursions. We really encourage people and citizen scientists to report invasive plants. You can get involved by signing into the Canberra NatureMapr app or the Atlas of Living Australia, which is iNaturalistAU, and you can also report incursions through Access Canberra.
The other things I really also encourage residents to get involved in—if they do have the time and capacity—are their local catchment group or ParkCare group. This is a great way to get involved in the tangible work of responding to these weeds. I was reading just today a great example of some work happening in a local group in Weston. So there are lots of ways to get involved.
MS CLAY: Minister, what work and resources do you have planned specifically for different electorates and for my electorate in Ginninderra for African lovegrass and invasive weeds.
MS VASSAROTTI: The ACT government will continue the significant work to respond to invasive plants and weeds. This is a particular issue with the weather patterns we have. We have the invasive plants plan, and there are dashboards provided on the EPSDD website, where members of the community can have a look at what is happening and monitor progress in real time. The operation dashboard is a really good