Upper Mary Valley Weed Vine Project

The Upper Mary Valley Weed Vines Project began in 2012 as a visionary strategy to eradicate destructive weed vines in the Upper Mary River Catchment. It has long been recognised that two Weeds of National Significance, Cats claw creeper and Madeira vine, pose a serious threat to remnant vegetation in the Mary Valley, particularly in riparian systems.

These weed vines smother mature and regenerating native vegetation, preventing photosynthesis and damaging the structure of trees and shrubs through the entanglement and weight of the vines. The consequent degradation or death of native plants impacts on vegetation communities and the wildlife dependent on them.

There are a number of threatened fauna species associated with these rainforest communities including the Plumed Frogmouth, Giant Barred Frog and Grey-headed Flying-fox. A third weed vine species, Dutchman’s pipe, is less inclined to smother vegetation but is toxic to the larvae of the threatened Richmond Birdwing Butterfly. This butterfly is listed as Vulnerable in Queensland. Adult butterflies mistake this weed vine for their closely related native host plant, laying their eggs on the foliage and consequently poisoning the larvae. Dutchman’s pipe is a Class 3 declared pest plant in Queensland. In addition, weed vines are a major threat to streams themselves and the aquatic habitat within them. Weed vines kill riparian vegetation which causes bank instability, setting off a series of changes in the streams such as bank collapse and sedimentation.

These changes cause widespread damage to in-stream habitat, remaining riparian vegetation, productive land, infrastructure and very importantly water quality. The Upper Mary Catchment was chosen because the area contains significant species diversity and plant communities, and the streams within the catchment act as important links between large, forested conservation reserves and more fragmented vegetation. Water also plays a major role in creating favourable habitat for these weeds and assists dispersal and germination of weed propagule.

Focusing this work at the top of the Mary Catchment will prevent re-invasion of the middle and lower reaches of the Mary River which are more severely affected by these vines. The project involves mapping of all infestations of these weed vines in the Upper Mary Catchment, followed by mechanical and chemical treatment of the weeds. Lake Baroon Catchment Care Group is carrying out weed vine eradication in the Lake Baroon Catchment, complementing the works in the rest of the Upper Mary. As of 2017, the project has completed its fifth year. This is a long-term project as Cats claw creeper has a “control life” of five years and Madeira vine a lengthy ten years. Biocontrol methods are also being tested and assessed.

HBL is very appreciative of the ongoing support and assistance received from Burnett Mary Regional Group, Sunshine Coast Council and Mary River Catchment Coordinating Committee in funding this project. Thanks to Barung Landcare and other contractors who have done an amazing job in mapping and controlling infestations of these weeds. Particular thanks to Matt Bateman who has guided the works in such a thorough and professional way.

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