Spartina control continues

West Gippsland Catchment Management Authority is working with Parks Victoria to control Spartina with targeted spraying in Anderson Inlet, Shallow Inlet and Corner Inlet in November.

Also known as Rice Grass or Cordgrass, Spartina was introduced in the 1920s and has since become aggressively invasive, competing with indigenous plants, degrading waterbird and fish habitats and restricting waterways.

Funded through the Australian Government National Landcare Programme and the State Government Regional Waterway program, the spraying uses aerial mapping of Spartina completed in late 2015 to better target this program.

WGCMA CEO, Martin Fuller, said the Spartina control operation will involve targeted spraying using a helicopter.

“A helicopter with snorkel attachment will be used to target intertidal Spartina in Corner, Anderson and Shallow inlets,” said Mr Fuller

“This program has been in operation for several years now due to a strong partnership between Parks Victoria and us which ensures land, estuary and coastal public lands are treated for Spartina.

“Spartina infestation is a major threat to coastal environments,” continued Mr Fuller.

“It smothers critical feeding and breeding habitats that support birds, fish and other aquatic species, and chokes intertidal mudflats, altering their natural hydrology.

“It also competes with indigenous plant species, blanketing previously diverse habitats.”

Additional mapping will be completed as part of this project to track the spread of Spartina in Corner Inlet and Nooramunga.

Controlling Spartina helps improve natural estuary habitat for important fish populations, allows vital plant species such as saltmarsh, mangrove and seagrass to re-establish and improves the feeding and breeding sites for local birds and internationally significant migratory species.

The Spartina control program complements the work WGCMA is doing with landholders to fence and revegetate coastal areas, to control erosion and protect saltmarsh.

This reduces levels of sediment and nutrients into Anderson, Corner and Shallow inlets, helping to maintain an ecologically healthy habitat.

Photo: the Spartina control program helps improve natural estuary habitat for important fish populations.