At short notice, Phil MacDonald graciously filled in and gave apologies from Sharon Millard. He introduced himself and explained his role as Natural Environment Project Officer within the Brisbane City Council, giving an outline of his diverse background in restoration ecology and vegetation management and his related work history.
The Natural Environment section of the Brisbane City Council is managed under three regulations:
Natural Assets Local Law 2003 (NALL)
Land Protection (Pest and Stock Route Management) Act 2002
City Plan 2004
Phil touched on other aspects of Compliance and Regulatory Service (CARS) including illegal dumping, filling and excavation, erosion and sediment control and pest animals. Some of these factors impact on vegetation management e.g. illegal dumped items may consist of pest plants or toxic substances.
Natural Assets Local Law is the most-used regulation. It restricts indiscriminate clearing of vegetation and deals with pest plant management and hazardous vegetation. NALL identifies and protects our most significant vegetation. Phil showed a map depicting the areas that are most important under the categories:
Waterways and wetlands vegetation
Significant urban vegetation
Significant native vegetation
Significant urban vegetation may include non-native trees that might not normally be protected, e.g. large mango trees.
The Council Environmental Management Team (EMT) is kept busy with 2000 applications and 5000-6000 enquiries per year about protected vegetation and illegal clearing. Penalties for illegal clearing are based on a formula taking into account the volume and height of the tree(s). The approx. value of a large Eucalyptus tereticornis would be approx. $30,000. The approx. value of 1 ha of bushland would be $1,000 000.
A recent QWeekend magazine (Courier Mail) featured the case where trees had been poisoned at an Ascot property to improve their city views. This resulted in ‘draping’ (to emulate foliage) as a form of compliance and as a deterrent.
Weeds and Pest Plants
BCC spends $5 000 000 managing pest plants. BCC officers survey private property under the Land Protection (Pest and Stock Route Management) Act 2002 (LPA) which has a compliance requirement. Phil showed a photo of a severe infestation of cats-claw creeper impacting on native vegetation. The EMT take both proactive surveys (on high bio-diversity land) and reactive surveys (in response to complaints). A map showed the priority areas according to the Pest Animal and Invasive Species (PAIS) based on biodiversity values. Priorities take into account conservation initiatives such as Community Conservation Assistance.
Members of the public and stakeholders are informed of upcoming surveys in the Courier Mail and by letter. Pest species are identified and Pest Management Plans are issued where applicable. Properties are broken up into manageable areas to target the infestation. Ideally, pest species are replaced with natives, though this cannot be mandated by the Council.
There are 207 pest plants listed under these headings:
P = Prevent (weeds not currently in the area, but unwanted)
E = Eradicate (Complete removal required)
C = Control (Remove over time)
R = Reduce (Reduce impact and spread of the weed)
Whilst quarantine of pest plants, as well as some prioritisation of pest plant species eradication occurs at a national level, the majority of pest plant control occurs at a state and local level.
If you would like to know more about Vegetation Management, have a look at the Brisbane City Council website at: http://www.brisbane.qld.gov.au/laws-permits/lawspermitsresidents/protecte-vegetation