@ Alex Nelson: Thanks for the information Alex. I wonder …

Comment on Buffel inaction makes mockery of parks hype by Ian Sharp.

@ Alex Nelson: Thanks for the information Alex. I wonder if there is a suitable forage crop to replace buffel if we attack it with biological agents, one that is less able to invade our parks?
@ Jacob: Sounds good, but do we know for sure the caterpillar would do the job we want as well as we want? And given Centralian pastoralists were encouraged to sow buffel and given advice by government departments via Agnotes, would they have grounds to claim compensation? Would Territorians be prepared to pay an environmental levy to fund measures to protect biodiversity?

Ian Sharp Also Commented

Buffel inaction makes mockery of parks hype
Jacob, I appreciate your zeal but can’t support the idea, even in jest, of introducing a biological control without proper scientific investigation and trials.
Buffel is a useful tropical forage for many cattle producers in Australia and it would be downright nasty to put their production at risk – and likely counterproductive.
According to the Tropical Forages website, buffel is an extremely variable species, and many different cultivars have been developed around the globe. There are biological threats to it, including the seed caterpillar and a fungus known as buffel grass blight.
What I would like to see developed is an agent that could attack buffel grass in our parks, but not on our cattle stations. That would involve first researching the different strains of the grass that exist in Central Australia to see if there is potential for developing a control agent that can achieve this aim.
If not, is there a pasture grass that could replace buffel on the stations, but not be such a threat to our parks.
That would open up possibilities as well, but all this involves serious scientific research and trials. And therefore money, government spending.
How to get governments to prioritize this is another question … a few of us bleating on this website, and feeling superior at Steve’s expense is not achieving much.
What the next step is I am not sure, I am disheartened to read that CSIRO are retrenching locally-based scientists.
I am also always disheartened to see pictures and comments on Facebook after every local wet episode about how green the country is looking … when most of the pics posted are of buffel.
Perhaps the campaign needs to start with more local environmental awareness of the problem? Latzie at the Ecofairs, for instance, is preaching to the converted, and so far those converts don’t seem to be making much headway on majority opinion – hard for me to judge now that I am retired and living down south.
When I was teaching Year 12 Geography a few years ago, I did some whole class fieldwork on buffel, we didn’t have to go far, thriving crops of it on the disturbed ground just behind the stand of box trees and salt bush behind Centralian Senior College.
As a result many of the students did their individual research projects on buffel in locations near their homes, once they could identify buffel and other plants they could see it everywhere.
But once they finish their schooling here many move interstate and only return to visit family and friends.
A more permanent contribution is the work of the local Landcare group, they have done some great things on a local scale, the locations I am familiar with are in Braitling and Old Eastside.
And then there are individuals who have quietly got on and done work in their local area, like Ken Johnson and Mark Gooley, and then rural blockies like Debbie Page out at Snake Gully.
But we don’t seem to have got through to the wider community, they still seem to see buffel greening up after rain as a good thing. Only when they get on board, recognizing the threat the grass poses to biodiversity, will we get governments to allocate significant resources to deal with the problem.


Buffel inaction makes mockery of parks hype
I’m suspecting Erwin writes up an article on buffel every so often well knowing the same old protagonists will fire up, especially if Steve gets himself into gear and fires up, as he has again on this occasion.
He seems to be shouldering the burden of defending buffel in our parks all by himself lately.
And the strain is showing, so best to call it quits for now. I think, we are covering much of the same old ground. One thing I do give Steve credit for, he puts his name to his opinions, no matter how ill informed they are.


Buffel inaction makes mockery of parks hype
Marcus: It is unlikely that buffel grass could ever be totally eradicated, even if we wanted too.
It is too widespread for that, and we have the complication that our graziers find it useful, as erosion control in sacrifice areas, and as feed.
In the Sonora Desert in the American South-West buffel is also a problem, but it seems to be more limited in area and eradication is being attempted by hand, thanks to volunteers from nearby large cities.
Some of our rural block owners have eliminated buffel from their properties, a lot of hard work, but all of them say it is well worth it to see the native plants and fauna come back.
In our national parks it is beyond that – a few corkwoods and ironwoods along the Simpsons Gap bike path had the buffel removed then kept at bay by spraying there or four years ago, but that is a drop in the bucket.
At an Ecofair, a few years ago, Peter Latz, well known flora expert, with years of local experience, told us that buffel was a huge threat to biodiversity in much of Central Australia, and the only way to limit it was through biological means – that is by the CSIRO, or their ilk, conducting research to find a way of repeating the success we had with the introduced castoblastis moth knocking over prickly pear in the interwar years last century.
The research would have to be extensive though, we don’t want a repeat of the cane toad disaster.
That’s why Governments need to allocate money, research and trials take time and they cost.
And then we would have the problem of the graziers. Even if we can negotiate with them, we would have to consider the billions of people who will starve as a result of the reduction in buffel in Central Australia – or this just in Steve Brown’s fertile imagination?


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