Gamba Army Coordinator Rowena Eastick (in PPE) with team members Angelina Trnka, Russel O'Regan, Haiden Delaney-Phillips and Hamish Clark
The Northern Territory Government has engaged TNRM to coordinate the $500,000 ‘Gamba Army’ as one part of the Government’s overarching Gamba Management Framework.
The Gamba Army Project aims to protect high use community and recreational areas and to complement existing land manager weed control efforts by providing an additional workforce in priority areas over the 2020-2021 wet season.
The current spraying schedule targets areas within the Casuarina Coastal Reserve and Charles Darwin National Park before Christmas 2020 in order to maximise the effectiveness of the operation.
TNRM has also established a register of preferred weed spraying contractors who will support the activities of the Gamba Army, adding to the number of jobs and local businesses to benefit from the initiative. Gamba Army workers operate on a flexible basis to meet the dictates of rainfall and weed growth rate.
GAMBA Grass infestation
There will be a range of sites targeted across the Darwin and Litchfield region under a prioritisation process that complements existing weed management programs.
It is a challenging task that involves a range of stakeholders including the NT Department of Environment, Parks and Water Security and NT Weeds Management Branch; Crown Land Estate; and Bushfires NT.
TNRM will provide ongoing information including the mapping and monitoring of Gamba Army activities and outcomes.
GAMBA ARMY - ONGROUND ACTIVITIES
The Gamba Army is currently conducting gamba grass management activities across more than twenty-five sites in the Darwin urban and rural area. Initial spray efforts prioritised Conservation areas, namely Charles Darwin National Park, Casuarina Coastal Reserve, Knuckey Lagoons, and Litchfield National Park. This was to supplement weed management activities already conducted by NTG Parks and Wildlife, in acknowledgment of the biodiversity, heritage, cultural and recreational values of these areas.
Selection of subsequent sites has progressed to ensure that tenures which adjoin these Conservation areas, are also managing their gamba grass to minimise seed introduction. Sites have also been selected which have benefits to the community, including Indigenous communities, sporting clubs, tourist areas, as well as contributing to cross-tenure management on adjoining tenures for more strategic gamba grass management.
GAMBA ARMY Q&A's
What jobs will be created with the GAMBA Army?
There will be employment opportunities for a mix of roles including casual teams that work directly with Territory Natural Resource Management (TNRM), and other groups such as rangers and contractors.
What is the cost of the GAMBA Army Project?
TNRM is delivering the $500,000 Gamba Army component of the NT Government’s approach to Gamba management (please refer to NTG for more details on other components).
Why are you using commercial companies as part of the GAMBA Army project?
The Gamba Army will be a mixed workforce who can optimise available periods for weed control, based on factors such as rainfall, access, and the Gamba grass growth stage. The project aims to support local business as well as develop workers for the Gamba Army, and as contractors take up additional opportunities, they may need to increase their workforce to meet demand.
Are the GAMBA Army jobs full-time or casual?
There will primarily be casual work available during the spray season as hours are determined by weather and stage of growth of the Gamba grass. TNRM will coordinate people on the ground to meet varying requirements.
What training will the GAMBA Army workers receive?
They will receive training in the safe application of herbicides, weed identification, and work health and safety procedures, including required PPE.
What type of work is being done as part of the GAMBA Army project?
Background work has been completed including identification of priority sites and assessment of timeframes and resource allocation. The main activities of the Gamba Army teams are on-ground control, primarily the spraying of herbicide.
When did TNRM begin the work on the GAMBA Army project?
The background work commenced in October as well as stakeholder engagement. On-ground work started on Monday 7 December 2020.
What chemical/s are being used in the spraying of GAMBA grass?
The herbicide to be sprayed is glyphosate. Glyphosate is registered in Australia for use to control a wide variety of leafy weeds. It does so by inhibiting the activity of a plant-based enzyme which is not found in humans. Glyphosate has been approved for use in Australia and is safe when applied in accordance with the label’s directions. (Food Standards Australia New Zealand)
Where will spraying of GAMBA grass occur?
Initial priority sites have been identified and include the conservation areas of Charles Darwin National Park, Casuarina Coastal Reserve, and parts of Litchfield National Parks. Additional areas are being considered in discussion with key stakeholders (NT Parks and Wildlife – Weeds Management Branch, NTG Crown Land Estate Office, Bushfires NT).
How do the public know if there is spraying in their neighbourhood?
Notification of spray activities, including dates and locations, will be updated on the TNRM website and Facebook page. Public Signage will be displayed at sites during spraying.