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Byron Shire
August 3, 2021

Making peace with the weeds

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Volunteers working, pulling Bitou bush on Brunswick Heads chemical free site. Photo supplied.

Byron Shire Chemical Free Landcare volunteers have been working for the past eight years on a five-hectare dune-regeneration project just south of Brunswick Surf Club.

‘I had been researching chemical-free bush regeneration strategies since 2004, regenerating a one-hectare rainforest planting at Gondwana Community without using synthetic herbicides,’ said the project coordinator, Nadia de Souza Pietramale.

‘My learning sped up when I meet Ellen White, who had years of experience developing a different view of the whole ecological framework of weed control as well as a simple and efficient crowning method for Bitou bush control on 50ha at the Dirawong Reserve at Evans Head.’

‘Since 2010, we have grown as a group,’ continued Nadia.

‘It’s very rewarding to see the fruits of this work that has required hundreds of hours of volunteer work’, added Nadia. ‘The core of our work is to care for the soil, water and air while restoring degraded ecosystems.’

Concerning for the chemical free landcare group is that  the main tool for weed control of ‘conventional’ bush regeneration is the use of a dangerous herbicide called glyphosate. In some cases it is used in public spaces where children play, in conservation areas, along creek lines, drains and wetlands.

‘This is despite an announcement by the World Health Organization, in March 2015, that it is a probable carcinogen and is strongly implicated in the global increase in non-Hodgkins lymphoma,’ says Nadia.

‘Lawsuits have now been filed against Monsanto in the US District Court in San Francisco and in US state courts by thousands of people alleging that exposure to Roundup herbicide caused them or their loved ones to develop non-Hodgkins lymphoma, and that Monsanto covered up the risks.’

Byron Shire chemical-free landcare volunteers see a need to move on from the war on weeds.

‘We’re not alone in our journey of making peace with the weeds. Many books, including The New Wild by Fred Pearce, rediscover what conservation should be about.

‘After years of seeing the damage caused by herbicides and other pesticides, there is now enough information to move on from “conventional” land management that depends on synthetic herbicides. Moving away from the “war on weeds”, we at BSCFL are excited to be involved in a movement that encourages life rather than death,’ finished Nadia.

[Photos]


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