The main objective of the Victorian Blackberry Taskforce (VBT) is to oversee implementation of the Victorian Blackberry Strategy (VBS), with the key goal to reduce the growth and spread of blackberry across Victoria. The emphasis is on education, advocacy and providing accessible information and support for public and private land managers to manage blackberry.
The key to achieving this objective is collaboration by all land managers to implement control programs. The VBT offers support through the provision of diverse education and information resources to enable all land managers to undertake best practice blackberry management tailored to individual needs.
Given the constraints placed on field events by the Covid-19 pandemic and restrictions, the VBT focused on upgrading online resources to support communities and individuals to decide the best options for treatment of blackberries on their properties. Additional Facebook posts, case studies, new Community Service Announcements, and maintaining a service of timely responses to emails and phone enquiries has enabled us to stay in touch with our community and assist with their blackberry control queries.
Community Service Announcements were once again screened on two Victorian television channels over three months. The theme of ‘blackberry control is everyone’s responsibility’ generated a large increase in visits to the VBT website and email requests for information. Analysis of the requests and web use provide a valuable insight into the information that people are seeking and the best ways to provide it.
The VBT received further funding this year from the Federal Government’s Weeds and Rabbits Program, enabling projects that will have lasting benefit to the community. A Cost Benefit Tool for calculating the costs and benefits of controlling blackberry for conservation outcomes has been completed and is on our website. It will assist those wishing to purchase or manage a property for non-agricultural outcomes – such as increased biodiversity, environmental offsets or asset improvement – to better understand the costs. This tool complements the Agricultural Productivity Tool, which has been on the website for several years and helps farmers with livestock to calculate the productivity benefits of returning blackberry-infested land to grazing.
The funding also enabled resources for three well-attended practical demonstration days at Swifts Creek, Goongerah and the Upper Murray. This forum included presentations from specialist speakers on hands-on blackberry management. Chemical and physical methods were demonstrated including drone technology.
The VBT welcomes all enquiries about blackberry-related issues. An email or telephone call will be responded to promptly or visit our website to browse the extensive resources.
I would like to thank Agriculture Victoria for funding support for the VBT. I also thank our partnership groups, communities, and public land managers for their contribution of knowledge and experience in implementing the VBS.