Froggatt Awards

Walter FroggattThe Froggatt Awards are named in honour of Australian entomologist Walter Froggatt, who, when the cane toad was released into Australia in the 1930s to control beetle infestations in the sugar cane industry, was a lone voice, lobbying the federal government to exercise caution.

At the time Walter wrote that ‘this great toad, immune from enemies, omnivorous in its habits, and breeding all year round, may become as great a pest as the rabbit or cactus’.

His lobbying efforts were initially successful, but overturned in 1936, and cane toads were released throughout the sugar cane regions of Queensland. The rest is history.

It was this realisation in 2002 that spurred a number of committed environmentalists to create the Invasive Species Council.

Now, invasive species have become one of the largest 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 to those who have made a major contribution to protecting Australia’s native plants and animals, ecosystems and people from dangerous new invasive species.

2017 Winners

Communication

Gregory Andrews, Australia's first Threatened Species Commissioner

Awarded to Gregory Andrews, Australia’s first Threatened Species Commissioner, for his enthusiastic and fearless efforts in raising awareness about the impact of feral cats and other invasive species.

He has built a high profile in the community about the impact of invasive species, particularly feral cats and the need for their control to assist threatened species recovery. He has also been an effective operator within government and instrumental in improving state and territory coordination.

As a result of Gregory’s efforts, there is now widespread understanding of the serious damage caused by feral cats to Australia’s threatened mammals, reptiles, frogs and birds, as well as a science-based plan in place to coordinate and stimulate action.

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Control and eradication

Awarded to SPRATS, the Sea Spurge Action Teams, for 10 years work eradicating sea spurge from Tasmania’s rugged southwest coastline. During this period more than 150 remote area volunteers have removed 14.2 million sea purge plants from 600km of coastline using 6000 hours of labour valued at over $1.4 million.

Now, 99.5% of the treated area is sea spurge free. Areas have also been treated for marram grass and two of the region’s only blackberry infestations.

Volunteers would undertake trips of between eight days and three weeks, arriving by foot, helicopter, boat or fixed-wing aircraft. Methods used include hand weeding, ground and aerial spraying. SPRATS is a WildCare group working in partnership with the Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife Service.

Both sea spurge and marram grass are recognised as threats to the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area. They can change the shape and structure of dune and beach environments by displacing native plants, they adversely impact coastal herbfields, grasslands, shrublands, shorebird habitats and marsupial feeding areas.

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Research

Smooth newt. Photo: John Beniston (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Awarded to Ecology Australia for their generous pro bono support surveying Australia’s only smooth newt infestation.

The smooth newt was first detected in Melbourne’s suburbs in 2011. The newt poses a serious threat to aquatic ecosystems across southern Australia. This was the first time the smooth newt has been found outside its native range in Europe.

After state and federal governments decided not to eradicate the invasive smooth newt in 2013, monitoring was halted and the newt allowed to spread. An Ecology Australia survey in spring 2016 revealed the newt threat remains, with several breeding colonies confirmed, one in a new location.

The research support provided by Ecology Australia is valued at more than $10,000. They have provided pro bono support to the Invasive Species Council since its formation in 2003.

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Image: Walter Froggatt, source https://www.anbg.gov.au/biography/froggatt-walter-wilson.html