The Neem Project

Sharing knowledge to tackle Kimberley Weed Priorities – Neem, Azidirchata indica

Summary

Neem, Azidirchata indica is emerging as an insidious and high risk weed to Kimberley bushland. Once planted as a shade tree in many communities, the high rate of spread has resulted in it being widely recognised as a priority weed. Whilst the Northern Territory has declared Neem as a controlled weed, not to be introduced, Western Australia has yet to include it under the Biosecurity and Agriculture Management Act (2007).

The 2013 Weed Prioritisation Process led by the Department of Parks and Wildlife (then DEC), ranked Neem among the top environmental weeds with a high level ecological impact across most Kimberley IBRA regions. The inaugural 2015 Kimberley Weed Forum (coordinated by Environs Kimberley) voted Neem as the highest priority regional weed. In addition to invading woodlands, fragile wetlands and waterways, it also infests Endangered Dampier Peninsula Monsoon Vine Thicket.

In delivering this project Environs Kimberley is:

  • Conducting field training, mapping and management of Neem with different community groups to control Neem restore native vegetation
  • Producing a Kimberley Neem Management plan.

 

Johani Mamid and Eduardo Maher Yawuru Country Managers

Photo (Damien Kelly) — Johani Mamid and Eduardo Maher from the Yawuru Country Managers treating Neems within Minyirr Park.

A note from Neil Hamaguchi — Neem Project Officer (Dec 2016):

KNP started the Neem Project in July 2016. While the funding is quite tight, our plan is to work with Yawuru Country Managers and DPaW Yawuru Rangers at Minyirr Park, DEMCO-Golf Club, Bilingurr and maybe Buckley’s. We also will be working with the Karajarri Rangers at Port Smith.

We realise that Neems are pretty difficult to eradicate but we will attempt to get as many mature plants before they flower and fruit again, which happens over the wet season, to prevent further spreading of seeds.

We have made a start at Minyirr Park along the Nagula track, the method we are using is cut and stump. Which means the trees are cut with a chainsaw and the top of the cut stump is treated with access/diesel. While EK and the rangers are cutting anything over 2m, we are working also with the Green Army Team who is following up our work and removing the smaller saplings and seedlings.

We are a little bit concerned about the long term effect of the herbicide on the native plants, so all the natives that had large Neems treated nearby are being monitored, just photos and GPS points so that we can go back and check on them just in case the herbicide will affect them through the Neems roots in the future.

The work conditions aren’t ideal at this time of the year, with high humidity and the Cable Beach dunes blocking any breeze. Workers can get quiet sweaty in a very short time, especially when correctly attired in long pants plus chainsaw chaps, long sleeved shirt and hard hat with face cover and earmuffs. Because of limited vehicle access we are all on-foot so we must carry everything we need with us to every large Neem tree. These conditions have slowed the work down a little bit but we’ve already made quite a dent, with lots of hard slog and sweat. The Country Managers and Curtis from DPaw make a great Neem team, and they are ready to tackle as many more as we can before they seed again.

So that’s how the Neem Project is progressing for now, it’s a beginning but I don’t know the end.

Curtis Robinson DPAW Yawuru and Eduardo Maher Yawuru Country Mangers DKelly pic

Photo (Damien Kelly)— Curtis Robinson of Department of Parks Wildlife – Yawuru Rangers controlling Neems within Minyirr Park.

 

The Neem Project — ‘Sharing knowledge to tackle Kimberley Weed Priorities – Neem, Azidirchata indica’ is funded through the WA State NRM and managed through the Kimberley Nature Project.

For more information contact: Neil@environskimberley.org.au