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Byron Shire
June 7, 2023

Learn about low-chem regen

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Byron Shire Council is about to vote on a motion with the goal of ceasing using all chemical-based herbicides.

The motion goes on to acknowledge that herbicides, although unpopular amongst some, are necessary to fulfill Council’s obligations. These include environmental responsibility to protect ecosystems, legal responsibility to noxious weed management, social responsibility to provide acceptable recreation facilities and economic responsibilities to maintain infrastructure etc.

It is essential for this flexibility as a hard line zero herbicide policy will fail.

I have set up chemical free ecological restoration sites with mixed success. On several organic tree-planting sites, the vitality of weeds has out competed the community’s best intentions. I have been faced with the prospect of hundreds of trees being smothered by weeds, losing thousands of dollars of plants, squandering hundreds of hours of community labour and eroding the community’s aspirations of restoring the environment. I sprayed the area with glyphosate, the project failed as a true organic site but the trees survived.

I have learnt my lesson and now promote low-chemical sites. To reduce the chemical use it requires more labour which is usually in the form of volunteers. This way we are able to achieve our restoration aims and can use around 90 per cent less herbicide. Although chemicals are used on these projects, local studies have shown we create a more stable ecological community with an increase in the number of species and individuals of native plants and animals (including frogs).

There are many organic ways to treat weeds. So those who are inspired to reverse our biodiversity loss and want to reduce Byron Shire’s reliance on herbicides are invited to a work and training session at the Mullumbimby Community Garden chem-free regen site. Come any time between 9am and 1pm on Wednesday 4 December. It’s time for less talk and more action.

Dave Rawlins, Mullumbimby Creek


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  1. All regeneration requires follow up work, physically demanding as that is. In the use of a applied down approach with the use of herbicides, promoted by the purveyor chemical companies, the chemical solution approach is short sighted and denies the myriad of micro life that herbicide applications damage. Soil is as important as the cute frogs we all identify with. I know many land-owners want an instant feel good, I am doing something for the ecology of the land, is not only short sighted but also contributing to run-off and unseen ecological damage. Call it a hard line approach Dave but I value all life whether its seen or unseen.If a land-owner or caretaker is really concerned about the ecology of the soil, water and air, then they would get out and do some hand weeding around the seedlings they have purchased.

    But good on you Dave for reducing your use of herbicides. Maybe we can convince you one day to cease their use all together. And may we one day see more land-owners actually getting involved with the ecology of their guardianship over their land.
    I recommend http://weedsnetwork.com/rs/::WeedsNews%20newspage

  2. Yes Eco Land Manager, I am not being paid to give the chem free regen training at the community gardens. This project started as a love job when I volunteered to write the bush regen management plan to get the project approved by council.
    I do work as a professional bush regenerator. However, I will continue to volunteer for a range of community projects.


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