Wednesday, August 27, 2014

an update in the fight against wandering trad

My thanks to Bill Incoll (Friends of Sherbrooke Forest) for providing this update, Bill has been tireless in his pursuit to rid the Dandenongs of Wandering Trad - Tradescantia fluminensis. Thanks also to Glenn Brooks-McMillan (Community Weed Action of the Dandenongs) and Anne Fitzpatrick (Yarra Ranges Landcare Network) who had a hand in preparing this summary update.

Regular readers of my blog will recall an earlier article detailing the call for research into a biological control for this weed nasty, ranked 10 in Yarra Ranges.

Wandering Trad forms a smothering carpet, it displaces
indigenous ground covers, herbs, grasses and orchids.
It is a common cause of rashes in dogs and is toxic
to cattle.

Funding has been found to start the battle with Tradescantia fluminensis (Wandering Trad). A recent Research Update provided by the Department of Environment and Primary Industry (DEPI) and CSIRO has provided the following news.

An application to the Australian Weeds Committee to have Wandering Trad (Trad) a target for biological control has been prepared and is being considered by the Committee.

While the application is being approved, testing of biological control agents can begin, provided this is done under safe quarantine conditions. Two agents, an insect and a fungal pathogen, are being imported from New Zealand. The fungal pathogen has already been imported and is currently in the quarantine facility with CSIRO in Canberra.

The insect, Lema basicostata, attacks the stem of the plant and greatly reduces the biomass of the plant. It has already been released in New Zealand and is successfully attacking Trad in the wild. It spreads by natural increase and will reduce the volume of weed until a natural balance is achieved that maintains a population of insects and a low biomass of Trad.
The fungus, Kordyana sp, (Brazilian yellow leaf spot fungus) attacks the leaves. The spores are spread by wind, much more quickly than the insect. This agent also has the potential to reduce Trad biomass to a low level.

The biocontrols will be tested on Australian native plant species likely to be affected, under strict quarantine conditions. DEPI will work on the insect, and CSIRO the fungus.

The first year of a three year program has been funded from State and Federal sources. Further funding must be found for two more years, leading to the safe release of up to four biocontrol agents.

In addition to the biological control program, Federal funding has been found to combat the spread and impact of Trad while the biological control program is carried out safely. These efforts will be concentrated where Trad is likely to affect rare or endangered species or communities in the Dandenong Ranges, on both private and public land.

It's great news and good to receive progress updates, it's a terrible weed which smothers everything else in its path and sadly is commonly found throughout the Dandenongs, especially along our waterways.

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At 1:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is indeed very good news in these extremely trying times for the environment. Wonderful to build on the work that has already been done in N.Z. and really speed up the normally very slow process of introduction of biological weed control.
Hopefully the trials are successful and there will be no adverse effects found on native vegetation, and the biocontrol agents can be released to do their business.
Continuing funding of the program is a must!


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