A commitment to tackle a major invasive ant risk in the Townsville and Cairns regions has been locked in by the Albanese Government in the federal budget.
‘Yellow crazy ants are one of the world’s worst invasive species. They overwhelm and kill native species turning forests silent, making homes and backyards unlivable, and severely impacting tourism and trade,’ said Invasive Species Council conservation director James Trezise.
‘This funding couldn’t be more timely. Infestations in Townsville are edging towards an endemic hotspot of threatened species at Mt Elliot, in Bowling Green Bay National Park.
‘$24.8 million will be rolled out across Cairns and Townsville over the next four years. The funding will ensure the highly-successful program led by the Wet Tropics Management Authority can continue and establish a new control program in Townsville.
‘This investment will help safeguard the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area, one of the oldest rainforests in the world, along with an internationally significant wetland. A large number of threatened species will benefit from the funding, such as the critically endangered Mt Elliot nursery frog and endangered Kuranda tree frog, which occur nowhere else on Earth.
‘It is critical that the Queensland Government, who is handling the funding, works quickly to get this money out the door, especially in Townsville where a control program needs to rapidly be established.
‘Without a dedicated eradication program, crazy ant infestations will get out of control and seed new infestations. The detection of yellow crazy ants in the Whitsundays demonstrates how easy this invasive species can spread and threaten nature and livelihoods.
‘Investing in control and eradication is a game changer for these communities. Funding will help to safeguard sensitive ecosystems and wildlife, as well as local industries,’ said Mr Trezise.
The budget has also delivered for controlling highly invasive gamba grass in the Northern Territory, locking in $9.8 million to build a Gamba Army across the Territory.
‘This funding will protect the Northern Territory’s northern savanna and iconic places like Kakadu National Park from this invasive weed. Gamba grass fuels more intense fires that increase carbon emissions and threaten biodiversity across the Top End,’ said Mr Trezise.