Steve Taylor from the ACT Parks & Conservation Service has been awarded a Froggatt Award by the Invasive Species Council for championing a new way of mapping invasive plants across the ACT.
Steve’s innovative thinking has led to highly effective eradication efforts of invasive weeds in the ACT. The mapping includes an invaluable data set spanning 10 years with 330,000 control site records.
‘As far as we know it’s the most comprehensive data set of environmental invasive plant control work for any state or territory in Australia,’ said Invasive Species Council CEO Andrew Cox.
‘The mapping has set the groundwork for new levels of coordination between national parks staff, contractors and an increasing number of volunteers,’ said Mr Cox.
‘Back in 2009, I realised one of the main reasons invasive plant control projects failed was because mapping was ad hoc at best, that led to a lack of follow-up control,’ said ACT Parks & Conservation Service invasive plants and plant pests manager Steve Taylor.
‘We also needed a way to map new incursions of highly invasive plants so there is early detection, rapid response and seamless coordination to control them.
‘When Esri released a field mapping smartphone app in 2014 that allowed easy map sharing we realised we could solve the problem.
‘All public land managers in the ACT now map on the same app, and that includes rangers, invasive species officers, biosecurity officers, volunteers and contractors.
‘Serrated tussock can double its infestation size in as little as 3 years and spread kilometres on the wind. So it’s vital to catch any new incursions as soon as you can.
‘We’ve used the mapping to track and guide the removal of nearly all of the serrated tussock at Jerrabomberra Grasslands Nature Reserve and the successful removal of blackberry from Namadgi National Park.
‘The mobile mapping system has also been used with great effect to contain incursions of fireweed, Coolatai grass and Mexican feather grass.
‘Park rangers, contractors and volunteers have meticulously mapped all locations and control sites of these three new incursions. This has ensured no sites are overlooked and, in the case of Mexican feather grass, we have now eradicated it from the ACT,’ said Mr Taylor.
‘Both Steve and ACT Parks & Conservation Service should also be commended for their commitment to open data and shareable technologies. This transparent and accessible approach not only facilitates best practice land management for all users but also supports government accountability,’ said Mr Cox.
‘Steve’s inventive biosecurity thinking, program design and productive collaboration have let the ACT set an example for how to monitor and prioritise invasive plant control across landscapes.
‘This has been recognised by both the CSIRO and the University of Canberra who are now jointly funding a 3 year study to use the data to assist with understanding thresholds for triggering control work,’ he said.
Steve Taylor is one of two Froggatt Awards 2022 winners, with Friends of the Fitzroy also receiving an award for using people power and innovative technology to push rubber vine to the verge of eradication in the West Kimberley. Also receiving special commendations were Holdfast Habitat Heroes, Tambo Bluff Landcare Coastcare, City of Gold Coast Natural Areas Restoration Team, Save Our Waterways Now Enoggera Catchment Care, Conservation Ecology Centre and South West Woody Weeds Action Team.
Multimedia materials to accompany this story are available on request. Steve Taylor and Andrew Cox are available for interview.
Background notes for editors:
The Invasive Species Council’s annual Froggatt Awards are named in honour of the Australian entomologist who was a lone voice lobbying against the deliberate release of cane toads in the 1930s. The awards recognise outstanding achievements in Australia’s fight against environmental weeds, diseases and pest animals.
More background about all winners and commendations of the Froggatt Awards 2022 can be found in our recent blog.
Nominations for the Froggatt Awards 2023 will open in the coming months.
Invasive plant control in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) is mapped on shared feature layers using the Esri ArcGIS Field Maps app (formerly Collector app). The app syncs to ArcGIS Online and also works offline in remote areas with edits being stored locally on the device used and synced when a signal is received.