Local land owners are having a real impact in the fight against feral animals and weeds as part of a pioneering scheme run by Queensland’s Southern Downs Regional Council, which has won a national Froggatt Award for its efforts.
The award is named in honour of Walter Froggatt, a lone voice in the 1930s warning of the dangers of releasing the cane toad into Australia to control beetle infestations in sugar cane.
The council’s Invasive Pests Control Scheme recognises landholders for taking action on pests and weeds including African boxthorn, blackberry, cacti, rabbits and wild dogs. The scheme has led to unprecedented weed and animal control, gains in farm productivity and protection of the region’s natural areas.
“The Southern Downs Regional Council is enlisting locals in the fight against the region’s most damaging pests and weeds in a scheme that empowers people to be actively involved in biosecurity,” said Invasive Species Council CEO Andrew Cox.
“This extraordinary scheme will save the region $96 million over the next 30 years in environmental and social costs and will have untold benefits for the local community.”
The scheme recognises landholders for undertaking pest and weed management. Since its launch in 2017 it has been applied across more than 5000 rural properties in the area.
Landholders are charged a pest levy based on the value of their property. If a land owner can demonstrate they are implementing a basic property pest management plan and meeting their general biosecurity obligation under the Biosecurity Act, the fee is waived.
Councillor for Agriculture, Environment and Sustainability, Cameron Gow, said the scheme gives landholders the tools, advice and support they need to protect their property and income from the destructive impacts of invasive pests.
“Landholders are making gains from the economic, environmental and social benefits of the scheme. Working together we can create a pest free future and protect our land for future generations. Caring for our environment means building better futures for our region, our communities and our kids,” Cr Gow said.
The Invasive Pest Control Scheme assists with greater landholder engagement, increased pest control and reduced areas affected by pests. It has potential for broader application across Australia and has generated enormous interest from state and local governments, with information being requested and shared across Queensland and beyond about the scheme.
About the Froggatt Awards
Invasive species have become one of the biggest threats facing Australia’s natural environment, but their continued arrival and spread is all too often neglected as a conservation issue.
The Froggatt Awards are given out by the Invasive Species Council every year and are named in honour of Australian entomologist Walter Froggatt, a lone voice in the 1930s warning of the dangers of releasing the cane toad into Australia to control beetle infestations in sugar cane.
The awards are given to those who have made a major contribution to protecting Australia’s native plants and animals, ecosystems and people from dangerous new invasive species.