Control of Invasive Plant Species in the Wild

Environmental Blog

The definition of a weed is simply a plant growing where it is not wanted and competing for resources (soil, light and water) with more desirable flora. A plant that might be useful in one ecological context might become a weed in another context, where its proliferation at the expense of other plant species outweighs its useful qualities.

The more pervasive weeds are often introduced from other countries, often accidentally; the ecosystem has not developed any checks and balances for the sudden intrusion of these non-native plants, and they soon take over a region, crowding out the native species. This in turn can cause knock-on effects affecting the fauna of the area, and degrade the ecosystem overall.

Bush regeneration involves control of weeds in the wild, as contrasted with agricultural weed control which is typically aimed at protecting a monoculture. The prevailing philosophy of bush regeneration is one that was developed in the 1960s by Joan and Eileen Bradley, and is widely applied in Australia today. The three basic tenets of the Bradleys' system of weed control are as follows:

1. Start weeding from areas strong in native vegetation, and work outwards slowly into more infested areas

The thinking behind this is that the native species will have a chance to gradually expand their territory as the clearance goes on. On the other hand, starting out by clearing areas heavily infested by weeds is thought to be counterproductive, as the weeds have every chance of making a comeback in such areas.

2. Create as little environmental disturbance as possible

Unduly disturbing the topsoil creates the ideal conditions for the seeds of invasive plant species to take root again. To this end, weed clearance using the Bradley system relies heavily on manual labour rather than indiscriminate, automated methods. Teams of paid workers and volunteers do the hard work of weeding an area using hand tools. The Bradley sisters also criticised the use of chemical weedkillers and "controlled burning" as means of bush control.

3. Do not clear an area too quickly

The pace of bush regeneration is set by the rate of growth of the native vegetation, and clearing away areas of weeds too quickly is counterproductive. The Bradleys recommended a careful approach to bush regeneration, where patience and continued observation play an important part. The native plant species need to be given the opportunity to expand into newly-cleared areas before the regeneration effort continues into more weed-infested zones. This more painstaking approach to bush regeneration gives more ecologically-friendly and long-term sustainable results.

If you need professional assistance, know that services like EcoHort Pty Ltd are happy to help.


30 July 2015

Energy efficiency in our school

It is important to let people know how much energy they are using with normal tasks around the school so they can make some sensible decisions about how they use appliances. We want to make sure that everyone at the school understands the focus on our usage and the effect that we can have on the environment, as well as the larger decision that the school is making such as motion-sensitive lights and replacing our energy-hogging older devices with new lower power using appliances. This blog talks about how to improve the energy efficiency of schools and will be useful for school administrators.