[ASC-media] MEDIA RELEASE: Qld Gov't "bites the bullet" and bans gamba grass.

Rita Reitano rita.reitano at adelaide.edu.au
Thu Apr 3 09:53:25 CEST 2008


The decision today by the Queensland Government to officially declare
African gamba grass a weed is a correct and courageous decision, taken in
the face of sectoral interests lobbying for continued use of this plant.

In congratulating Queensland Minister Mulherin and supporting the decision,
CEO of the Weeds CRC, Dr Rachel McFadyen, pointed out that pastoral
interests imported the grass from Africa in the days before modern weed risk
assessment protocols were available. 

'Armed with the assessment process we now have, it is highly unlikely that
permission would ever have been granted to allow this dangerous grass
species into Australia', Dr McFadyen said. 

'It's a major threat to biodiversity, and it's a high fire risk for
wildlife, humans and infrastructure.'

The African grass was recently assessed by officials in both WA and
Queensland using a standard, national 'weed risk assessment' process
developed by Australian scientists, Dr McFadyen said. 

'In both states this species failed the test miserably. WA then banned it,
and now Queensland has bitten the bullet as well.'

Dr McFadyen said that the fact that almost 200 scientists recently signed a
declaration calling for the grass to be banned sends a clear wake-up message
to the NT Government to pay attention to the evidence about the long-term
risk this species poses to the natural environment and to other valuable

'Australia's northern savannas are globally recognised as high quality
ecosystems supporting both pastoral use and whole suites of native flora and
fauna, and on a sustainable basis', Dr McFadyen said. 

'The savannas are a national treasure that demand the very highest standards
of stewardship. The challenge now is to complete their protection across
northern Australia by the NT Government making the same move.'

Class 2 Declaration in Queensland means that local governments and other
land owners such as Main Roads will have to control the plant on their land,
and isolated and small infestations can now be eradicated.  Where
landholders have plantations established for cattle feed, they will be able
to maintain these but will have to prevent any seeding and spread and take
responsibility for the control of unmanaged infestations on their land. 
'On behalf of the scientific community I congratulate Minister Mulherin on
his decision to declare gamba grass as a Class 2 weed in Queensland, and
call on the NT government to follow suit immediately', Dr McFadyen said.

'There is not a moment to lose if we are to have any hope of containing the
gamba grass disaster in the north', she said.


Dr Rachel McFadyen, mob 0409 263 817
Prof. Stephen Garnett, Charles Darwin University, 08-8946 7115, or mob 0408
832 109 Peter Martin 08-8303 6693, mob 0429 830 366

High resolution weed photos of gamba grass and the high intensity fire it
supports can be downloaded directly from
or by contacting Rita on rita.reitano at adelaide.edu.au

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