SPRATS are a crack team of weeders who are out to eradicate sea spurge from the remote beaches of the west coast of Tasmania. Be prepared for weeks away in hostile environments if you join this group of hardy Wildcarers!
Who we are
Wildcare SPRATS is a volunteer group and is short for Sea Spurge Remote Area Teams. Wildcare SPRATS was formed in early 2007 to implement a part of the Tasmanian Beach Weeds Strategy. Wildcare SPRATS aims to establish and maintain an eradication zone for sea spurge (Euphorbia paralias) and marram grass (Ammophila arenaria) along the southwest and southern wilderness coastline of Tasmania—some 600 kilometres of coast from Macquarie Harbour, to Cockle Creek south of Hobart.
Wildcare SPRATS is at the forefront of creating and consolidating a new volunteer ethos of “adventure conservation” to tackle conservation issues in places where they are not efficiently managed by traditional agency implemented programs. This community partnership has generated real benefits for wilderness conservation and provides fulfillment and fun for volunteers.
……….we concentrate on getting the work done but work hard at having a good time
What we do
Sea spurge is a small leafy shrub originally from Europe and now found across southern Australia. Sea Spurge together with Marram Grass colonise sand and cobble beaches and may spread inland across dune systems, transforming dune geomorphology and associated ecosystems. Along the Tasmanian World Heritage Area and wilderness coastlines it can have a devastating impact on coastal landforms, Aboriginal cultural sites, coastal herbfields, grasslands and shrublands, as well as habitats for rare and threatened shorebird species such as the little tern, fairy tern, hooded plover, red-capped plover, pied oyster catcher and orange bellied parrot.
Over five seasons, 200 volunteers have contributed 3,500 person-days to treat 13 million sea spurge plants. Some 5+ million have been removed by hand pulling at 530 sites and the balance by herbicide spraying. Follow up work is well on the way to depleting residual seed banks by removing seedlings. 63% of all sites treated are now weed free.
In 2010, SPRATS hand pulled 2.2 million plants and the count has declined in the following two volunteer seasons. This year, even though we anticipate finding and pulling 70,000 seedlings, the task is no less important. Until seed banks are depleted, the threat can quickly re-establish as seedlings turn into adult plants with each of these producing thousands of new seedlings.
Partnerships and funding
SPRATS work in a number of partnerships and principally with the Parks and Wildlife Service. The Australian Government provides the much of the funding to enable volunteer deployment via various grants most notably Caring for our Country program.
How are SPRATS organised?
Our coastal weed eradication objective is set at a landscape scale, must operate over the long term and is logistically complex. SPRATS are self governing and self reliant, have formal office bearers and meetings, and have recruited the necessary skills to its ranks. Planning is open to all members. SPRATS have documented a ten year strategy and operate each year under an annual plan. Volunteer risk is managed through participant selection, the use of specialised communications equipment, formal safety analyses and post deployment debriefing.
Operational data is collected and analysed to improve future efforts.
Can I get involved?
Yes. Wildcare SPRATS have opportunities for both organizers and weeders.
If you are an experienced, self-reliant bushwalker who wants to spend time on some hard-to-access coast, and put something back into the environment, this is for you. There are opportunities for bushwalkers with a variety of fitness and experience levels.
All parts of the coast are breathtakingly beautiful, and offer the freshest air in the world. We take the time to enjoy this special place.
There are a range of leadership and organizing roles and which are confirmed at an annual meeting.
President – Chris Roberts