Authorities are working to eliminate more than 1,000 noxious weeds on a rural property south of Sydney.
- More than 1,000 parthenium weeds have been found at a rural property in Gerringong
- An emergency response from multiple environmental agencies is underway
- The weed can cause serious allergic reactions in people and taint the products of livestock
The highly invasive parthenium weed has been detected on a farm in Gerringong on the New South Wales South Coast.
The plants are believed to have come from a contaminated batch of chicken feed, which has also been traced back to outbreaks in other parts of the state this year.
A taskforce of about 30 people from the Department of Primary Industries (DPI), Local Land Services, the Illawarra Weed Authority and 11 local councils from around NSW will work to eliminate the weed from the property this week.
Sniffer dogs will be used to try and identify any plants which have spread to nearby properties.
Illawarra Weeds Authority spokesperson David Pommery said while livestock did not typically eat parthenium, if they did, it could be toxic.
Ingesting the weed can cause serious allergic reactions in people.
“Depending on how much of it gets eaten by livestock, it can taint milk and taint meat as well,” Mr Pommery said.
Significant biodiversity risk to NSW
Team leader of the invasive species programs at the DPI Rod Ensbey said the weed was prohibited matter in NSW and one of the “highest priorities” for elimination.
“It is the first incursion in the south-east region, but there have been 30 others around the state since last April.
While most incursions have been in areas west of the Great Dividing Range, finding the plants on the coast is more of a concern for authorities.
Parthenium can seed in as little as four weeks and coastal weather conditions are ideal for growing.
Education of council staff a priority
Eleven local councils have sent representatives to Gerringong this week to assist with the removal of the weeds and also to learn how to identify them in case they appear in other regions.
Local Land Services regional weeds coordinator for South East NSW Megan Willie said it was a good opportunity to get all agencies together.
“From our perspective, weeds don’t discriminate between regions,” she said.
“It could be in any region at any time.”
Mr Pommery said the Gerringong area would need to be monitored for up to a decade to ensure the plants did not seed anywhere else.
“I would say we are looking at a minimum of seven to 10 years because the seeds can remain viable in the soil for a long period of time,” he said.
The DPI has allocated additional funding to Kiama Council for ongoing management of the situation.