“It is a management issue where resources have not been made available for Parks to do the buffel management that is necessary,” says ALEC CEO Jimmy Cocking about the devastating fire in the iconic West MacDonnell National Park last month. ERWIN CHLANDA reports.
In the big drought: "The stocked areas of the Todd River station had been denuded to such an extent that the Hereford cattle were climbing high into the hills searching for feed, or, as told to me by the station owner Sandy Pye, walked out as far as 22km from a watering point, looking for feed." DES NELSON (pictured) recollects. AT LEFT: Buffel thriving.
"My purpose in providing this information is not to defend CSIRO from suggestions that it was responsible for the spread of buffel grass in central Australia but to illustrate, as Des Nelson did, that the story is much more complex – and interesting – than this," says Margaret Friedel. ERWIN CHLANDA reports.
UPDATE May 27 Dr Friedel expands on experiments in The Centre with grasses. She is writing a history of weed invasions in arid Australia.
Buffel grass, now declared a noxious weed in South Australia and displacing native flora in vast stretches of the NT, was a desperate measure to deal with massive droughts in the 1950s. DES NELSON has first-hand experience of that dramatic era. He is pictured with wife Pat and Gillian Ward (centre), author of Olive Pink: Artist, Activist & Gardner, at Olive Pink Botanical Gardens which has fought a long war against buffel. Photo at left: Two buffel spirals south of the Alice Springs Airport, covering about one hectare.
Native plants in The Centre have adopted a “fair-go” type mechanism, whereby each species has an opportunity to flourish and reproduce without being overwhelmed by every other member of the local ground-flora. Buffel grass brutally interferes with that, writes LINDSAY JOHANNSEN. Pictured is buffel in iconic Palm Valley.
Pockets of native grasses providing seed banks could be key to a strategy for defeating buffel. PHOTO: Stuart Rotary Club member Richard Bentley is heading up volunteers working near Wallaby Gap on the Larapinta Trial. ERWIN CHLANDA reports.