February 25th, 2009
When Federal Environment Minister Peter Garrett recently launched the Bitou Bush Management Manual, the Invasive Species Council took the opportunity to warn that bitou problems will worsen under climate change.
“Bitou bush already threatens dozens of rare coastal plants and vegetation communities, but under climate change this devastating and highly aggressive weed has the potential for much greater destruction,” ISC Project Officer Tim Low said.
“Like many weeds bitou bush thrives in areas that have been disturbed. Climate change will bring more violent storms that will open up increased opportunities for this plant to spread.”
Bitou bush has invaded 80 per cent of the New South Wales coastline, on coastal dunes and in rainforests. It grows near the sea in places that are highly susceptible to cyclones, storms and tidal surges.
“This African weed invaded in the past when native vegetation was removed by bulldozers, and vegetation damage by violent weather events will further promote its spread,” Mr Low said.
“Global warming adds greater urgency to the need for better management of weeds like bitou bush and prevention of new weed problems. A warmer world is going to be a much weedier world.
“Other weeds likely to benefit from violent weather along Australia’s coastline include lantana, gloriosa lily, ice plant and myrtle-leaf milkwort.
“The Invasive Species Council welcomes the launch of the Bitou Bush Management Manual and is pleased to see the federal environment minister involved. It signals a federal focus that is much needed on our weed issues.”