Three dozen people saw what a difference removing buffel grass can have on natural landscapes last weekend when they toured several properties around Alice Springs.
A next generation buffel buster has a moment of reflection at Ankerre Ankerre
The Buffel Busting Inspiration Tour showcasing locals’ trials, tribulations and successes in removing the plant with a complicated history was hosted by the Arid Lands Environment Centre (ALEC) in partnership with Land for Wildlife and Desert Knowledge Australia and supported by a TNRM Community Support Grant (available year-round).
Thirty-five people joined the tour, piling into two minibuses and a small smattering of utes, which took them from Olive Pink Botanic Gardens to several places around town that have been affected by buffel grass.
First stop was Ilparpa to hear from eminent botanist and agrostologist, Peter Latz.
First stop - Ilparpa
In addition to removing buffel from his 20 acre bush block, Peter has encouraged a few neighbouring properties to do the same and created a corridor by removing buffel from adjoining drainage lines.
Peter pointed out a relatively recent wildfire which had killed old ironwood trees on account of being surrounded by buffel, which can produce a high intensity fire.
Now, native and fire tolerant bushes grow up and around live trees, protecting them from severe burns.
Participants were then shown how on Schaber Road, Bruce Simmons has spent recent years removing buffel grass from the roadside verges.
Bruce was the first one to tackle the problem in that area and his initiative and leadership has inspired many other owners of nearby bush blocks to follow suit.
Bruce Simmons (far left) and Peter Latz share their experiences of removing buffel grass
Debbie Page, of Ross, was happy to show the tour how she had successfully cleared her 5 acre block of buffel after learning from Land for Wildlife of the potential benefits of doing so.
Following guidance and support from Land for Wildlife Debbie learned how to identify and remove buffel, by spraying at the end of each year’s wet season.
She has since been rewarded with a beautifully biodiverse garden.
Jude Pritchard hosted the group at Ankerre Ankerre, an area of land recently overrun with saltbush, planted as a dust suppressant, and buffel grass.
Jude Pritchard introduces Ankerre Ankerre to the group
Over recent years they have pushed the saltbush and buffel boundary back towards the roadside and, in its place, are leaving an inviting landscape that has seen a number of picnicking families enjoy its warmth.
Having returned to the start at Olive Pink, grounds manager Doug McDougall took the tour along Nurse’s Hill where the garden’s staff, volunteers and the efforts of Green Army teams have been systematically removing buffel and finding the native seed bank has flourished as a result of its absence.
Thanks to all hosts who graciously showed us around their labours of love and to ALEC and Land for Wildlife in particular for their efforts in organising the day.
A follow-up working-bee is scheduled for late March at the Ilparpa Claypans, so keep an eye on TNRM’s Facebook page and the ALEC website for details.