Environmental advocate declares “war” on wattle

Emily AceSouth Western Times
Golden Wattle - acacia pycnantha
Camera IconGolden Wattle - acacia pycnantha

Invasive Golden Wattles have reached “crisis proportion” in Bunbury and must be “tackled now” before the South West’s natural landscape is “changed forever” according to Environmental advocate and geologist Bernhard Bischoff.

The wattle which originated from the Eastern States, well known as our nations emblem and scientifically known as the Acacia Pygnantha, has not been declared a pest plant as it does not yet effect agricultural production.

“Based on my observations over several decades, I am convinced that if they are not tackled now and with all the resources we can muster they will never be stopped,” he said.

“That means many characteristic natural landscapes of the South West would change forever.”

Mr Bischoff said the Eastern States Acacias were planted for their “useful properties” and “attractiveness” since the 1980s, but had “slowly developed into the problem we are facing now”.

“Australia’s floral emblem is one of the Eastern States Wattles that must be declared a Pest Plant in WA,” he said.

“It is flowering prolifically right now and appears to be already well out of control in some areas mainly outside Bunbury.”

Mr Bischoff warned that if the plant was not “attacked” when it is first observed, it would get out of hand and estimated the cost of removal would “skyrocket to ten of thousands per patch” when mature.

“Their easy growth and bright flowers make them attractive to plant in many situations,” he said.

“Their dense growth habit smothers every thing from ground covers, shrubs and small trees,” he said.

“While nothing can grow underneath mature wattles, the wattle can grow under any of the trees characteristic for the South West, like Paperbarks and Banksias, Marri, Tuart, Peppermint and Christmas trees.

“They also enrich the soil with nitrogen, which the local flora is not used to.”

Mr Bischoff was particularly concerned with a piece of Bunbury Turf Club land along Bussell Highway, where the Wattles were “attacking” ancient Paperbark trees.

“Never have I ever seen it as bad as this year – it’s explosive,” he said.

“It’s an attack – it’s war.”

Mr Bischoff said the wattle had spread along “most arterial roads” along the verge and in extreme cases into the bushland the roads travel through.

The spread is due to the big amount of seed pods the plants produce which are scattered by mowing, road work contamination and birds.

“They simply take over and turn the landscape yellow everywhere, which is unacceptable,” he said.

‘This corner of Australia since the final break-up of Gondwana 60 million years ado and is therefore particularly vulnerable to foreign invasions.”

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