Friday, 5 October 2012

VRDCA and collaborative Prickly Acacia control on Moolooloo

Prickly acacia control on Moolooloo Station (VRDCA)
Rhys Arnott, coordinator with Victoria River District Conservation Association (VRDCA) recently told me about a Prickly Acacia Project on Moolooloo Station (Part of VRD Station), which commenced earlier this year.

“It’s a great example of a collaborative project,” Rhys said.

Heytesbury Pty Ltd won a local grant of $20,000 from Territory NRM to control Prickly Acacia along Battle Creek and two adjacent paddocks.  Heytesbury conducted aerial surveys of the area with their muster helicopters. “We hovered above trees and took GPS points. This meant that on-ground control was all about chasing GPS points. The aerial surveys made such a difference.”

Prickly Acacia (Photo: NT Government)

In June, Heytesbury’s Russ Cornall, Rhys and Tahnee Thompson from NT Government’s Weeds Branch conducted on-ground control for one week with 3-5 people from the Timber Creek Ranger Group, who were subcontracted with part of the funding. Together they tracked down plants on quads and a six wheel Polaris Ranger.

“The 6 wheeler is unbelievable. I wouldn’t go back to owning a heap of quads now. It does the job of three quads. It comfortably fits two people and you can carry heaps of water, herbicide and fuel, and it carries a 300L spray unit.”

Russ re-surveyed the area from the air and found more plants for a second week of control in August. They found that most plants from the first control had died.  

“When we go back next year for follow up I think we are going to have a great success rate. Everybody contributed significant in-kind support which made this such a successful project and the $20,000 went much further.”

VRDCA started in 1987 and initially focused on erosion. Interest and focus has fluctuated, with feral animals now perhaps the major focus. Rhys actively promotes and fire management and conducts herbicide application and GPS training on stations to build their capacity to control weeds.
Members see the organisation as a good vehicle to maximise their efforts with funding assistance. They approach VRDCA with their ideas and in-kind contributions and VRDCA develops these into a professional application. Many members also use VRDCA as a conduit to other agencies if they have a problem and need advice.

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