In a setback to Australia’s iconic Wet Tropics World Heritage Area, the federal budget has failed to explicitly fund the successful yellow crazy ant control program run by the Wet Tropics Management Authority in Cairns.
‘If this program were to stop it would be a major blow to the World Heritage Area and the communities around Cairns and Townsville who are impacted by this dangerous invasive species,’ said Invasive Species Council Conservation Director James Trezise.
‘Most Australians would be familiar with the Daintree Rainforest and the iconic ecosystems of the World Heritage Area, which are the oldest continuously surviving tropical rainforests on Earth. What many people may not realise is that these amazing ecosystems are under serious threat from one of the world’s worst invasive species, yellow crazy ants.
‘Yellow crazy ants spray formic acid to kill and swarm their prey. In warm, tropical places like northern Queensland they can form supercolonies that can wipe out most of the animals in a forest.
‘These ants can devastate the environment, industry and the community, rendering local parks and backyards unusable. If left uncontrolled, it’s estimated that the environmental and socio-economic cost to regions in northern Queensland would exceed $6 billion over the next 30 years.
‘The Cairns program’s federal and state funding runs out in June this year, but the job is a long way from done. With an impressive track record over the last five years, there is a good chance of success in eradicating these dangerous ants.
‘A federal investment of $3 million per year for the next 6 years, supported by matching state funding, would ensure that the eradication program can finish its work in Cairns and the world heritage area. It would safeguard the environment and protect the recovering tourism industry whilst delivering close to 70 jobs to the region.
‘We also need a similar effort directed at eradicating yellow crazy ants from Townsville, which will require its own eradication program given the scale of the problem there’. said Mr Trezise.