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Byron Shire
July 13, 2024

Protesters stop aerial spraying

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Wanda, Iris and Danielle expose bitou spraying. Photo Trevor Avedissian

Staff reporters

A group of concerned residents successfully stopped planned aerial spraying of herbicides by the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) in Tyagarah Nature Reserve yesterday morning (Monday).

The site is being sprayed to remove the weed bitou bush, which out-competes native coastal vegetation.

The group plans a further protest at the site again today.

Spokesperson Iris Ray Nunn told Echonetdaily that the spraying was stopped through non-violent direct action because there were people in the dunes. ‘They didn’t spray Tyagarah, but NPWS people said they would spray elsewhere.’

She says the group sincerely wants to work with NPWS and Byron Shire Council towards a solution to control the weed without resorting to chemicals.

‘We want to keep Tyagarah Nature Reserve spray free and use chemical-free ecological principles to remove bitou.’

She added that ‘people in the community who are on the dole’ could be recruited to help with the removal.

Ms Ray Nunn conceded that it’s a ‘large area’ but said it was ‘possible to clear it without chemicals’.

She added that the group plans to send a cost-effective proposal on how this can be achieved to NPWS.

‘This type of spraying is indiscriminate and old fashioned and can’t be proven to be completely safe.’

NPWS area manager Sue Walker told Echonetdaily that a proposal to the group to spray a smaller area and work with the Byron Shire Chemical Free Landcare group was not accepted on Monday.

She added that bitou bush has been contained in Queensland through spraying.

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  1. Maybe instead of protesting they should spend a few days pulling weeds out. That would be true direct action.

    At a recent workshop i attended the national weeds coordinator in charge of Bitou Bush informed us that the ‘organic’ bitou control was largely ineffective and responsible for spreading seeds into new areas.

    If chemicals are the problem, then do something, get out there and get pulling those weeds out!

    • Sam, they were pulling weeds out, I believe. Additionally, we are advised by Byron Shire Chemical Free Landcare that their next weeding be, or ‘Bitou yoga’, will be on Saturday 10th of August, from 9 am to 1 pm, morning tea at 11 am.

  2. Excellent news. Now to gather the numbers. No difference with the chemicals in CSG mining and the herbicides in wide use through-out the Shire. NPs Institutionalized thinking is now out of date and its time for all so called environmentalists to pitch in and get to work.

  3. Congratulations! Once more the community is standing up (in the nude or not) to a practice that is slowly poisoning every living being. These chemicals do not simply fade away. We know for instance that glyphosate has been found in the urine of europeans. How did that happen if is is suppose to break down within a few days?
    The issue is that big companies of chemical plants or otherwise are selling their poison to us. We are buying it and spreading it everywhere putting at risk the most vulnerable children and small creatures such as bees and pipis.It is so good to see the community stand up to them.

  4. Lets just do the maths then. Chem free group have not been able to control about 3Ha of bitou in 3 years. So based on those maths and the area covered by bitou in TNR, it will take a similar group about 25 years to remove the original batch of bitou. Then then are 7 to 10 years before the seed is exhausted. So since it will take maybe 15 years to reach the second batch, a new batch will have already seeded and the cycle will start all over again. That means it is mathematically impossible for a group similar to the chem free group to remove bitou from tyagarah – certainly not in any one human lifetime. How about finish the 3 odd ha first before claiming there are runs on the board?

  5. As suggested earlier in this article, there are many strategies to increase the number of people required to successfully manage the bitou bush by wo/manual means. The local Landcare group can readily be supplemented by EnVite, Green Corps, unemployment programmes, broader calls for human support etc etc. Further, I refer you to the broadscale spraying of bitou bush south of Lake Arragan and the very evident die-back that is occurring amongst the Casuarina and Banksias on that strip. Perhaps an independent study of this situation is required …. For the earth


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