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.