Rural Property Inspections Result in Action on Gamba Grass
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Weed Management Branch has undertaken roadside surveys of more than 478 Top End properties since November 2016 for gamba grass compliance.
149 properties were flagged as requiring on-site inspections. To date 23 of these inspections have been done, with 16 resulting in the issue of orders to undertake gamba grass control.
Gamba grass is a declared weed that was initially introduced to the Territory in the 1930s as a pasture grass, but has since proven to be highly invasive, creating high fuel loads that can lead to hot, intense fires that may place people and property in danger.
Weed Management Branch Director, Geri Lee, said the response has been largely positive with most residents agreeing to meet with Weed Officers on-site and complying with orders to effectively control gamba grass on their properties.
“Property owners are required by law to manage gamba grass growing on their properties,” Ms Lee said.
Under the Weeds Management Act, property owners and occupiers are required to manage or eradicate gamba grass on their property according to the zone* in which the property is located.
The Weed Management Plan for Andropogon gayanus (Gamba Grass) clearly articulates management requirements.
“For several years we have led a community awareness program regarding the requirement for gamba grass management and prevention of its spread,” Ms Lee said.
“We have now identified ‘hot spots’, where gamba presents the greatest risk to community safety due to non-compliance.”
Areas already inspected have been in the Darwin River and Acacia areas. Pending inspections are being scheduled in Humpty Doo and Berry Springs.
Once issued with an order, the person is given six weeks to meet with a series of property-specific requirements that will reduce the risk of gamba grass spread and the accumulation of dangerous fuel loads around dwellings.
“Most people complied with the orders but one Darwin River man did not and he’s become the first person to be fined $271, including the victims levy,” Ms Lee said.
“This man will receive another fine if he still hasn’t taken appropriate action within the next month to combat gamba grass on his property.
“In the worst case scenario, on-going recalcitrance could result in a case being taken before the courts where fines up to $15,400 could apply.
Gamba grass can only be effectively treated when it is actively growing between November and April.
“Where management doesn’t occur increased loads of dry and highly flammable grass during the following Dry Season threaten lives, property and stock.
“Our preference is proactive control and compliance, not fining people.
“That’s why everyone who is issued with an order is also offered free herbicide and spray equipment through the Gamba Action Program.
“The Gamba Action Program is more successful than ever, with more than 1200 people already accessing the Program this wet season.
“Information on the Gamba Action Program is available at www.nt.gov.au/gamba.
“We encourage the community to contact us for advice and assistance and look out for the Gamba Action Vehicle as we inspect the gamba hot spots.”
Details about the Gamba Action Program can be accessed by calling 89994567 or by emailing email@example.com