State Forests, BHP Billiton and Conservation Volunteers Australia join forces to remove willows

State Forests, BHP Billiton and Conservation Volunteers Australia (CVA) have formed a partnership to provide volunteer work, funding and in-kind support for the removal of large numbers of willow trees in Reed Beds Swamp and along a section of the Murray River.

Both areas are located within the Moira State Forest, which is included in the group of State forests that has been listed as a wetland of international importance under the Ramsar Convention.

The work starts on 2 February, which coincides with World Wetlands Day, and will run for two weeks.

The first week is funded by State Forests at a cost of $2500, while the second week is funded by BHP Billiton and the CVA.

State Forests regional ecologist based at Deniliquin, Mr David Leslie, said the joint venture was a State Forests initiative in conjunction with the ‘Revive our Wetlands’ program, which was created by BHP Billiton and CVA to revitalise at least 100 of Australia's most significant wetland sites during a three-year period.

"The removal of a highly invasive weed species from such significant wetland will provide many social, economic and environmental benefits for the region,” he said.

The Revive our Wetlands program is the largest wetland environment partnership ever in Australia and has recently won the prestigious National Large Business category of the Prime Minister's Award for Excellence in Community Business Partnerships.

Mr Leslie said during the two weeks a CVA group under supervision from State Forests would eradicate willow trees by injecting a bi-active glyphosate herbicide into the stem.

“This chemical is registered as environmentally safe to use in and around water waterways,” he said.

“The stem injection method is being used to reduce the risk of broken branchlets re-shooting downstream.

“The species to be treated are mainly basket willows and weeping willows. The basket willow has been declared a noxious weed species in the central Murray region of NSW, while the weeping willow is widely regarded as an environmental weed.”

Media contact: David Leslie on (03) 5881 2266.