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Spartina management in Western Port estuaries

Current

We’re undertaking a ten-year program aiming to completely eradicate Spartina, an introduced grass species, from Western Port by 2025.

Commencing in 2016, the program follows a recommendation from Ecology Australia to eradicate all Spartina from Westernport intertidal zones – areas where freshwater rivers meet ocean waters to create a saltmarsh. The program is part of our Westernport Spartina Management Plan, and follows a review of our previous efforts with Parks Victoria to control the weed in the region.

Why this is important

Spartina is a rapidly-spreading grass species introduced from Europe in the 1920s to prevent shoreline erosion. Its strong, matt-like growth stabilises banks, but also out-competes native saltmarsh plants. Having taken over several of the region’s saltmarsh areas, it is now known to be a major environmental threat to estuaries:

  • destroying native saltmarsh and seagrass
  • affecting the habitat of migratory bird species and near-shore marine animals
  • creating unnaturally deep and narrow intertidal canals that impact tidal flows.

A control program is helping re-establish indigenous saltmarsh, which provides habitat for the critically-endangered Orange-bellied parrot and other animals.

Take a look at the following video for more information on our Spartina management program.

What’s happening and when

Westernport_Spartina_Management.jpg
Saltmarshes where Spartina grows.

Annual Spartina control works involve spraying by helicopter, on foot and by boat.

Helicopter spraying takes place from mid-spring to mid-autumn each year, and is a more efficient way of targeting the boggy, inaccessible marshes where Spartina grows. The herbicide used is a special composition that only targets Spartina grass, and has no impact on native saltmarsh plants or animals.

Location

Work areas include the saltmarshes in Bass, Lang Lang, Koo Wee Rup. Works start at the mouth of the estuary to Western Port and move upstream over a number of days, but are unlikely to run for consecutive days due to the tides and weather.

What to expect

Aerial spraying is a very targeted process, involving a long snorkel attachment being lowered from a helicopter into a salt marsh. The aerial crews pinpoint the Spartina and use a spray nozzle to coat the plant evenly, ensuring the spray does not enter the waterway.

Ground spraying is undertaken by quick spray units or by knapsack.

All works are carried out in accordance with EPA guidelines. During spraying we advise you to keep clear of the aircraft, ground crews and areas being treated.

Contact us

If you have any comments or queries:

131 722 (reference ‘Spartina Management Plan Westernport’)

 [email protected]

Last updated:
22 September 2020