Sea spurge biocontrol gaining ground
A comprehensive progress report on the November 2023 Tasmanian monitoring of the sea spurge biocontrol by Jon Marsden-Smedley, from Wildcare’s Sea spurge Remote Area Teams (SPRATS) can be found at this link.
Jon’s short summary is that the biocontrol is persisting under Tasmanian conditions, killing many sea spurge adult plants and spreading beyond its release sites. This has resulted in major reductions in sea spurge cover, health and transformed the sites into containing mostly young and/or juvenile sea spurge plants. This should result in a very large reduction in seed production and, once the seed bank is reduced (2 to 4 years), major reductions in the amount of sea spurge.
However, the current dry season has resulted in a decline in the level of the biocontrol activity. But, the biocontrol is still active at all of the release sites and so should increase its impacts once wetter conditions prevail again.
SPRATS are just about fully organised for their next season. The plan is to have a briefing in Strahan on Sat Jan 6 before deploying on Sun 7 Jan. This year there will be a total of 27 volunteers involed – 25 doing the field work and 2 doing communications. As in past years, the aim is to survey and weed all susceptible areas of the entire Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area coastline and its South West Conservation Area buffer.