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GAMBA ARMY

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Gamba Army Coordinator Rowena Eastick (middle) with team leaders Colin Smith and Hamish Clark.

GAMBA ARMY

Territory NRM continued the strategic work to curb the spread of gamba grass after the Northern Territory Government announced a further $500,000 towards the Gamba Army, building on the initial $500,000 and the success from the 2020-21 season. This enabled vital follow-up spraying on areas treated in the first year of the program, and further extended activities to new areas in the 2021-22 wet season. The Gamba Army also continued to provide jobs and support for local businesses.

The Department of Environment, Parks and Water Resources (DEPWS) Weed Management Branch and Territory NRM are working in partnership to deliver the Gamba Army to combat this invasive Weed of National Significance.

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Gamba grass increases fire intensity compared native grasses. Wildfires threaten people, infrastructure and biodiversity.

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Where has the Gamba Army
been deployed?

 

Collaboration and coordination with a range of land managers helped prioritise sites for the Gamba Army in the 2021-22 season.

 

See map below for further details of treated sites.

The program aims to protect biodiversity and conservation areas, reduce fire risk in high use community and recreational spaces, and ‘keep clean areas clean’, complementing existing land manager weed control efforts. Initial priorities were conservation areas, namely Charles Darwin National Park, Casuarina Coastal Reserve, Knuckey Lagoons Conservation Area, and Litchfield National Park. Selection of subsequent sites progressed to ensure that tenures which adjoined these conservation areas, were also managing their gamba grass to minimise seed introduction. Sites were also selected which had benefits to the community, including Indigenous communities, sporting clubs, and tourist areas. The Gamba Army ensured the efforts from 2020-2021 were reinforced by conducting follow-up spraying across these sites over the 2021-22 season, encompassing more than 760 hectares, across more than 50 parcels of land.

A strength of the Gamba Army is the ability to work across land tenures, facilitating management across a geographic block rather than aligned with individual land managers. Territory NRM and the Weed Management Branch at DEPWS are working with a range of major land managers and contractors, including Parks and Wildlife, Department of Infrastructure, Planning and Logistics, BushfiresNT, NT Police, Fire and Emergency Services, Department of Defence, Litchfield and Palmerston City Councils, as well as community groups, to combine and share knowledge on gamba grass in the Greater Darwin area. A workshop between stakeholders in November 2021 helped facilitate cross tenure management and identified additional priority areas for the Gamba Army for the 2021-22 wet season.

TNRM will provide ongoing information including the mapping and monitoring of Gamba Army activities and outcomes.

GAMBA ARMY - ON-GROUND ACTIVITIES

Where has the Gamba Army been deployed?

The Gamba Army has conducted gamba grass management activities across a number of sites in the Darwin urban and rural area over the 2 years of the program so far. Follow-up spraying on the sites treated in the limited season (2020-21) has priority for the second season (2021-22). 

Collaboration and communication between land managers, weed contractors, and community is key to enabling cost-effective gamba grass management. The Gamba Army has sprayed across a number of different land tenures, informed by stakeholder engagement and a transparent prioritisation process. This cross-tenure approach is a key strength of the Gamba Army.

[See the figure below for more information a number of the Gamba Army sites, including Charles Darwin National Park, Casuarina Coastal Reserve, Knuckey Lagoons, Darwin Clay Target Fields, Minmarama Park, Howard Springs Pine Forest, and many more].

Where will spraying of gamba grass occur?

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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).

Why are we investing in the Gamba Army?

The Gamba Army provides a flexible cross-tenure geographic approach to managing gamba grass. Keeping 'clean areas clean' as well as treating extensive infestations for asset protection are key outcomes for the gamba army.

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GAMBA ARMY Q&A's

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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.

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What is the cost of the GAMBA Army Project?

TNRM has delivered the Northern Territory Government's $1,000,000 Gamba Army initiative across two years of the Program over the 2020-21 and 2021-22 seasons.

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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.

Why are you using commercial companies as part of the GAMBA Army project?

Why are you using commercial companies as part of the GAMBA Army project?

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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. Local weed spraying contractors will also be part of the gamba army.

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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.

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What type of work is being done as part of the GAMBA Army project?

Background work includes 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.

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Is the Gamba Army making a difference?

The Gamba Army has significantly reduced the size and density of gamba grass at more than 50 sites in the Darwin and Darwin Rural areas. Sites are selected where the land owner/manager is committed to conducting follow-up treatement to build on Gamba Army efforts.

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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)

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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.

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