How we made it work-A Pest Plant and Animal Roadside Management Program

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Up until about 2011 there was a lot of doubt and controversy about who was responsible for pest plants and animals along roadsides. After a lot of consultation and hard work in establishing a determination, local councils were deemed to be responsible for all roadsides that were ‘council roads’. VicRoads would continue to maintain all roads and freeways for which they were responsible.

As a result of this decision the Victorian Government provided funding to shire councils to address roadside weed and pest management. Shires could engage contractors to undertake the work that would then be approved for payment.

Our shire’s initial funding was $150 000 over the first three years: this was extended to a fourth and fifth year – total funding was in the order of $250 000.

The rate base for our Shire is small. There are not many on-ground staff. Recognising this as an issue, that in the past weed control had led to sub-optimal results, our local landcare groups developed a model to assist the Shire in delivering the program.

Our proposition was that if the Shire met all the regulatory requirements of the funding, the landcare groups would inspect the roadsides to locate weeds and rabbits. Each group selected an approved contractor to undertake the work; a landcare representative supervised the work and approved final payment by the Shire to the contractor on the basis that work was completed to the required standard.

Shire officers, agency staff and the landcare group representatives have met annually to review and improve the program.

There has been a significant impact on the extent of roadside weeds. The involvement of the landcare groups meant that community education is more effective and our community owns the project. A win-win for all.

A Story of Success – Effective Rabbit Control Is A Long Haul

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Our rabbit control story has been ongoing … forever. In ‘the old days’ it was poison, spotlight, fumigate … every year, year after year! In the early 90s the tide began to change. We developed and implemented a broad scale, integrated approach that covered six landcare groups in our area – a total of 93 000 ha. To do this our community established a collaborative of the six groups. We called ourselves The Granite Creeks Project.

The community led integrated control program was developed by our Committee of Management. We decided to employ a fulltime Education Officer. This was a critical part of our early and ongoing success. The role was to actively educate our community by attending landcare meetings, contacting agencies, making site visits to individual and groups of landholders, publishing articles in local papers, building partnerships … we even featured in The Australian Geographic.

Often, the best things that can happen are unplanned … enter the 1995 RHDV impact. We were chosen as one of 17 data collection sites across Victoria. Our spotlight transect has been continuous from 1996 to 2017 … 22 years of data. Our control program has been in place for more than 25 years and continues every year … so what is the proof of success?

Rabbit counts for the 18 km transect are down from 1070 rabbits in 1996 to 8 in 2016. Cost to government and community is down to one tenth of 1996 expenditure. Land mangers have more time for other activities. Our current funding is in the order of $15 000 … because this is essentially all that is needed to maintain our previous investment and gains.

Some reasons for our ongoing success are that the program is landscape wide, it is community developed and community driven.