A joint effort between State Government agencies, local biosecurity groups, traditional owners and a mining company is reducing the footprint of the invasive weed rubber vine (Cryptostegia grandiflora) in the Lake Argyle area.
The successful annual control program has reported vine numbers across a target area in the East Kimberley have halved since last season.
The 2019 control program found 3471 vines in the control area compared to more than 7,800 vines in 2018 and approximately 11,800 vines in 2017.
Rubber vine damages the environment by smothering and pulling down riverside vegetation and is toxic to livestock if eaten.
It first appeared in the Lake Argyle area in the 1990s near the junction of the Ord and Bow Rivers.
The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) has partnered with the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions, Kimberley Rangelands Biosecurity Association and traditional owners to carry out a yearly campaign targeting the weed.
The Lake Argyle Rubber Vine Advisory Committee, which consists of these groups along with Rio Tinto Argyle Diamonds and contractors, now manage the joint effort to eradicate the vine from the area.
DPIRD biosecurity officer John-Paul Slaven said the yearly program began with an aerial survey across about 40,000 hectares at the end of the wet season rains, to identify flowering rubber vine from the air.
“This is followed by weeks of groundwork by staff from all partner agencies and contractors to destroy identified populations of vines,” Mr Slaven said.
“Each reproductive vine is cut down from its host tree and carefully dissected to remove all seed-pods from the vine.
“Vines are then cut off at ground level and painted with herbicide and the pods are burnt.”
Older control areas and outliers identified during aerial work are surveyed on foot to visually inspect historical vine locations.
Mr Slaven said the dry conditions experienced this year were likely to further deplete the seed bank.
The joint effort will ramp up again in 2020, following the wet season.
Jodie Thomson/Katrina Bowers, media liaison +61 (0)8 9368 3937