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 during October and 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.

WGCMA CEO, Martin Fuller, said the Spartina control operation, informed by aerial mapping, will involve targeted spraying using ground, boat and helicopter treatment delivery methods.

“A helicopter with snorkel attachment will be used to target intertidal Spartina in Corner, Anderson and Shallow inlets,” said Mr Fuller. “We’ll also be using kayaks to get into tricky places – this really is a highly targeted program.

“We’ve been tackling Spartina for more than a decade due to a strong partnership between Parks Victoria and us which ensures land, estuary and coastal public lands are treated.

“Spartina is a major threat to coastal environments.

“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.”

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.