The Barron River catchment is a highly modified and disturbed landscape, and therefore susceptible to the establishment of weeds and animal pests.
Invasive species pose one of the major threats to the biodiversity of the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area. Over 500 weed species have been identified in the Wet Tropics, with 200 new species recorded in the last decade. Many weed species were introduced for agricultural, horticultural and domestic purposes.
Weeds are generally associated with disturbed areas and can spread rapidly without control or competition from native species. They have the potential to invade and disrupt pristine ecosystems and block waterways, reducing the availability of food and shelter for native animals and increasing the fire risk in some areas.
Likewise, feral animals prey on native wildlife and compete for food and habitat. Some vertebrate pests cause soil erosion and damage to crops (pigs and rabbits) while others damage infrastructure (rats). Aquatic pests such as Tilapia can spread through waterways in times of flood, posing a huge threat to native fish species.
Climate change is expected to provide conditions for further spread of weeds and pests in the Wet Tropics, and may well provide opportunities for population explosion by introduced plants and animals that are currently at low levels and not considered to be a problem (‘sleeper species’).
Managing weeds and pests
The only way to control weeds and pests is through cooperative management, involving all levels of government, non-government organisations, agricultural bodies, community groups and landholders.
Pest and weed control is an important component of Barron Catchment Care’s revegetation and habitat restoration work, and aspects of land and water management.
Specific pest management projects being undertaken are:
Barron Catchment Care is working with landholders to entice owls onto their properties, to encourage natural rat control, by installing custom made accommodation in the tree-tops ....read more about the Owl Box Project.
‘a plant outside its normal geographic range, which can have a detrimental effect on natural ecosystems by aggressively invading native vegetation’.
‘exotic (introduced) animals which have established themselves in the wild’.