Hardly a bit o' bitou, says Mr Harding
From the August 2010 edition of Agriculture Today.
The coastline of Eurobodalla Shire is the first region in NSW where the noxious weed, bitou bush, has virtually been eradicated.
“This is a significant achievement and possibly the first time an introduced species infesting such a large area has been successfully eradicated,” said Graham Harding, Eurobodalla Council’s senior noxious weeds officer.
The South African weed was introduced into NSW to stabilise and secure sand dunes.
Bitou bush was introduced into the Eurobodalla area in the 1960s but it quickly spread, outcompeting native vegetation, and by 1992 the weed had infested over 54 per cent of its coastline, an area of 2739 hectares.
It continues to threaten coastal dune vegetation along much of Australia’s east coast.
It can outcompete and, in many cases, totally replace native flora, and invades both undisturbed and disturbed areas.
Infestations of bitou bush drastically alter the environment for many native birds and animals.
It can also create a favourable environment for other highly invasive weeds, such as asparagus fern, lantana and glory lily.
Bitou is a spreading evergreen woody shrub, typically one to two metres high and two to four metres wide.
It has bright green, fleshy leaves and bright yellow, daisy-like flowers.
Eurobodalla Shire Council and the South Coast Bitou Bush and Boneseed Taskforce instigated a bitou bush containment line to contribute to the success of the control program.
Over the years a range of weed control methods have been used to combat the infestation, including herbicide spot spraying and aerial application, biological controls and appropriate use of fire.
The control program’s achievement is due to the collaborative approach and the support of many community Landcare and Dunecare groups, private property owners and government agencies.
They have stopped the spread of bitou bush on the South Coast and have maintained the containment line, which has moved more than 100 kilometres north over the past five years.
All involved congratulated Mr Harding on his commitment and significant achievement.
“This eradication certainly proves that, with a concerted effort, the battle against weeds can be won,” said Mr Harding, who will shortly retire after 24 years’ weed management work in Eurobodalla Shire.