Weeds dominate native plants and are a significant threat to natural ecosystems, cultural sites and productive landscapes in the Kimberley.

These invaders also drive changes to fire regimes and can result in hotter, more frequent fires and biodiversity loss. They threaten native animals, for example Gouldian Finches, by displacing important food sources, changing fire regimes and destroying important habitat.

From 2007-2009, EK ran the Community Weed Education and Eradication Delivery (CWEED) project to combat invasive weeds in the vast Kimberley.

This was done collaboratively with local landowners and managers, especially Aboriginal ranger groups, in on-ground projects and by promoting a deeper understanding of weeds and their management in the Kimberley across the region and beyond, through information and educational activities.

What we have been doing

CWEED was EK’s first on-ground environmental management project, developed and coordinated by Louise Beames. In 2009-2010, the project became the West Kimberley Nature Project.

It worked closely with the Nyul Nyul (formerly the Beagle Bay Rangers), Wunggurr Rangers, Minyirr Park Rangers (now the Yawuru Rangers), Goolarabooloo, Bardi Jawi Rangers, Karajarri Rangers, Walmajarri Rangers (now Ngurrara Rangers), Gooniyandi Rangers, and Balanggarra Traditional Owners, and the Kimberley Land Council.

We provided training and practical and advisory support to groups, including weed identification, plant sampling, GPS recording and mapping, herbicide application, plant removal and burning, chainsaw and brush-cutter application, as well as conducting planting activities.

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In doing the above, CWEED collaborated with Kimberley TAFE (now North Regional TAFE) to complement ranger conservation and land management training, developing resources (including site safety and record manuals) and management plans tailored to each group’s sites and needs.

We developed the Kimberley Community Weed Cards and distributed them across the Kimberley. 

CWEED also produced a Special Places for People Plants and Animals poster, identifying Bardi Jawi and Yawuru language names for vine thicket plants and animals in their country, and illustrating the threat of weeds to vine thickets. The factsheet and poster series were distributed to working groups and community schools.

We initiated on-ground activities at a range of sites across the Dampier Peninsula, Bidyadanga area, the North Kimberley, Broome area, Fitzroy Catchment, Central Kimberley and Southern Kimberley.

We worked with the Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC) (now Department of Biodiversity Conservation and Attractions) to raise regional awareness of the threat of weeds, and undertook other activities on Monsoon Vine Thickets (MTVs) on the Dampier Peninsula — a threatened ecological community.  We also produced a community factsheet about MTVs. We supported DEC to develop a weed monitoring protocol for MVTs.

CWEED worked with Kimberley shires, Main Roads, the Department of Agriculture and Food (now Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development), DEC and the Water Corporation, and contributed to the development of policy such as the Kimberley Weeds Prioritisation Process, weed management planning and reducing the horticultural promotion of potentially invasive plants.

We supported the emergence of the newly formed Society for Kimberley Indigenous Plants and Animals (SKIPA) which, in turn, assisted with weed control and restoration by sharing skills and providing vine thicket seedlings.

At the 2008 WA State Environment Awards, CWEED was short-listed as a finalist in the Community Achievement Category The listing recognised the role of the project in protecting biodiversity by increasing public awareness and developing the capacity of Kimberley people to identify and respond to the threat of weeds. Additional media and promotion included local newspaper articles and radio interviews.

Partners

Nyul Nyul (formerly the Beagle Bay Rangers), Wunggurr Rangers, Minyirr Park Rangers (now the Yawuru Rangers), Goolarabooloo, Bardi Jawi Rangers, Karajarri Rangers, Walmajarri Rangers (now Ngurrara Rangers), Gooniyandi Rangers, and Balanggarra Traditional Owners, Kimberley Land Council, Miriuwung Gajerrong Rangers, Kimberley TAFE (now North Regional TAFE), Main Roads, the Department of Agriculture and Food (now Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development), the Water Corporation, Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC) (now Department of Biodiversity Conservation and Attractions), Broome Shire, Shire of Derby/West Kimberley, Shire of Wyndham/East Kimberley

Funders

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Links to interviews and media

'Thug for the month of March', by Vanessa Mills, ABC Kimberley

'A unique ecosystem network, A Question of Balance', Community Radio Network

'New campaign to tackle Kimberley-Pilbara weeds', ABC News, 10 September, 2007

'War on weeds' - Broome advertiser, 20th September 2007

'Weed worries with water-wise' brochure, by Frieda Mc Loughlin, Broome Advertiser

'Kimberley projects take out awards', by Steven Hounsome, Broome Advertiser, Oct 23rd 2008.

For more information, contact

Louise Beames - louise.natureproject@environskimberley.org.au