Over 100 people attended the two VBT roadshows. — A Great Roll Up For VBT Roadshows In South Gippsland

Over 100 people attended the two VBT roadshows on the 7th and 8th of February 2014 at Boolarra and Toora North. Both events had a wide range of speakers from private landholders, chemical representatives, project officers, government staff and Landcare representatives. From these experts we gained knowledge on a wide range of topics from wider pest issues to blackberry.

Lyn Coulston chairperson of the Victorian Blackberry Taskforce explained why community led programs work and suggested the VBT model could be used for other pests. The presentation gave attendees an insight on the makeup and purpose of the VBT, and why the community weed model works.

Mr John Burley from the Department of Environment and Primary Industries highlighted two significant changes to legislation affecting pest animal and plant management. Pest control on local roadsides are now the responsibility of Councils and the new proposed Invasive Species legislation will replace aspects of the Catchment and Land Protection Act 1994 concerning Pest Plants and animals.

Barton Roberts from the Department of Environment and Primary Industries gave a presentation on new and emerging weeds. The emphasis was on State Prohibited Weeds in the Gippsland Region. These included Japanese Knot weed, water hyacinth, salvinia, horsetail and Mexican feather grass. State Prohibited weeds have the potential to become widespread and cause social, economic and environmental damage. DEPI relies on the public to report sightings of these pests.

Dr Robin Adair from Australis Biological gave an insightful talk on biological control of blackberry.   Biological control ‘rust ‘ has had good success in certain areas making blackberry plants less robust.  He also went on to outline other research into biological control.  An insect from Europe which attacks the crown of blackberry and Purple Blotch disease which has had promising results in shaded areas from trials in New Zealand.

Chemical representatives from Dow and DuPont presented expert advice on their various products and correct application. There were plenty of questions from the audience with community members relaying their own experiences with control of blackberry.

Hugh Frith from Certified Organics presented detailed information on the product ‘Bio-weed’ as an alternative control measure for blackberry. The products mode of action strips the cell wall of the woody plant. Corner-inlet are currently trialling this product on four separate properties with other control measures.

Both days had Presentations from locals including project officers Ed Szwaja (Corner-Inlet Blackberry Taskforce) and David Akers (Central Gippsland Woody Weeds Group). These two programs gave us a clear example of the flexibility of the VBT community partnership approach.

Local Landholders Russel and Raelene gave us an insight into their highs and lows of blackberry management in the Corner-inlet area. From the very beginning they had to learn from scratch and build up their skills to now feel confident in blackberry management.

As you can see, we had a great range of speakers and the Victorian Blackberry Taskforce would like to thank Corner-inlet and Wellington Blackberry Action Group for their on-ground organisation of the events. Special thanks must go to Ed Szwaja, David Akers, Charles Uber and Ian Ewart.

View a selection of presentations delivered at the
Victorian Blackberry Taskforce Roadshows