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August 3, 2021

Bitou bush spraying postponed

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Chemical-free Landcare advocates are pushing to stop the spraying of what they claim is a potentially dangerous herbicide, metsulfuron methyl, over national parks in Byron Shire.

Plans to aerial spray Bitou bush in Tyagarah sparked a recent meeting between the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS), Byron Shire Chemical Free Landcare and the ‘Save Tyagarah Nature Reserve From Aerial Spraying’ Facebook group.

The push follows the announcement by NPWS that the scheduled spraying for Cape Byron Headland (Tuesday July 16) has been postponed because of the predicted unfavourable weather conditions.

Nadia de Souza Pietramale from Byron Shire Chemical Free Landcare told Echonetdaily that at the meeting ‘The group put it to NPWS that Tyagarah Nature Reserve instead be managed using a non-chemical, ecological restoration approach that is safe for the environment and community and also proven to be effective’.

‘[NPWS area manager] Sue Walker agreed to consult with Bundjalung of Byron Bay (Arakwal) about Tyagarah Nature Reserve and report back to the group.’

When asked by Echonetdaily about evidence NPWS uses that spraying is best practice, Ms Walker replied that the ‘Threat Abatement Plan for Bitou Bush’ document (available at www.environment.nsw.gov.au/bitouTAP/bestpractice.htm) ‘proposes actions to reduce the impacts of Bitou bush on biodiversity, particularly threatened species, populations and ecological communities’.

Ms Walker also added that ‘ongoing monitoring of the control program has shown that Bitou bush has been reduced by over 95 per cent, while the number and abundance of native species has increased. Also Plectranthus cremnus, a local rare herb ranked the number one plant species at risk from Bitou bush invasion, has significantly increased distribution and abundance in controlled areas.’

But Ms de Souza Pietramale says, ‘The spraying operation would see parts of the Tyagarah nature reserve aerially sprayed from 870 metres south of the northern boundary of the reserve, heading all the away along until Belongil Creek. It’s unclear for how many years this spraying would occur and what the expected results would be.

‘Questions were raised with Ms Walker about the residual impacts of the herbicide metsulfuron methyl and the risks it poses to littoral rainforest species, including the threatened Pink Nodding Orchid, as well as marine life along the shoreline.’

She also says that the ‘group took issue with the inadequate community consultation and notification for this intensive spraying operation’.

A petition is available at www.ipetitions.com/petition/place-an-instant-moratorium-on-the-spraying-of/.

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