29 June 2020

Tilba Tilba and Narooma Land Care broadens scope to focus on climate resilience

| Elka Wood
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Two yellow fireweed flowers.

Fireweed, originally from South Africa, now blankets many paddocks across the Bega Valley and Eurobodalla. Photo: Bega Valley Fireweed Association.

Having focused predominantly on fireweed control for the past five years, the Tilba Tilba and South Narooma Land Care team is broadening its scope and wants you to be a part of it.

The group’s efforts to control the South African weed have included lots of removal by hand pulling, as well as using South African Dorper sheep, which, unlike most animals, eats the weed.

“Fireweed is no small matter and so many farmers have had a hard time of it,” says president Geoff Pryor.

The group has approached Liberal and Labor candidates in the upcoming Eden-Monaro by-election with the aim of securing funding for the next stage of a CSIRO research project searching for a biological control for fireweed.

While the group will continue to target measures to control and reduce the weed, Geoff says the time has come to broaden focus to other significant local environmental issues, including controlling or eradicating invasive flora and fauna species, and helping the community and land adapt to become more climate resilient.

The Tilba Tilba and South Narooma Land Care team currently comprises local farmers and “significant landholders”, explains secretary Mark Stubbings. But at the recent 2020 annual general meeting, there was a unanimous vote to expand membership and actively seek new members.

“There’s never been a better time to work together on environmental management issues,” says Mark. “As we all went through the past summer’s fires together, we know the health of the climate and of the bush is so important to how we move forward.”

Geoff also says the time has come to expand focus to climate resilience. “Fireweed continues to spread across the southeast and we’ve done what we can to slow it,” he explains.

“But at this time, coming out of the bushfire season, it’s clear to me that climate resilience is crucial moving forward.”

Improving the health of local soils and waterways so they can better withstand extreme weather conditions is top of the group’s list.

“A number of our members live close to Tilba Lake and that’s where much of our fireweed control has taken place,” says Geoff. “But there are concerns that the ecology of the lake is not good.”

Heavy mulching to retain soil moisture during bushfires and high winds is a possibility, he adds.

Ensuring future developments in the region are sympathetic to the environment is important to the group.

“We don’t want to look back and say, ‘That was a really nice place to live 25 years ago,'” says Mark.

Geoff agrees. “We have outstanding natural and cultural assets in our district with tremendous potential, however they need to be recognised and protected if they are to continue to flourish,” he says. “Owning or leasing land in the district is a vital economic activity, but it also brings with it an obligation to enhance and protect the area.”

The group has prepared a detailed strategy document to focus on its expanded plans. This includes organising a local forum to collaborate with other groups and locals in the near future.

For more information, or to become a member of the Tilba Tilba and South Narooma Land Care group, contact secretary Mark Stubbings at [email protected] or call 0414 223 925.

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