Hiptage Infestations on Council’s Hit List

Monica Haynes
June 19, 2017

Hiptage flowerHiptage infestations in the Mossman River catchment are on the Douglas Shire Council's hit list, with the help of Terrain.

Support from Terrain NRM through the Queensland Government's Regional NRM investment is helping Council target the core infestation and keep the weed at bay from the World Heritage-listed Daintree National Park. Council say they are confident that the battle against Hiptage is winnable.

Coordinator of Public Spaces, Pete Logan, said, “We believe it was introduced to the area by a plant collector back in the 1930s. Over the years it’s become more recognised as a threat to the Wet Tropics region and Council have been working hard to eradicate Hiptage for the last decade.”

Support from Terrain NRM has been described as a game changer as it has enabled Council to contract local tree lopping experts and climbers to target the core infestation of Hiptage in steep rainforest terrain that Council don’t have the capacity to tackle.

Aerial GIS data collected over the last ten years shows an ongoing reduction in the infestation size - from 48 hectares down to 22 hectares. “We are not getting any further spread into the national park and can actually demonstrate over time that we’re having big wins! Hiptage reproduces via seed and the (only) beauty of this weed is that unlike most others it has short-lived seeds. This means it’s easier to break the seeding cycle,” Mr Logan said.

Hiptage can grow to 15 metres high in rainforest, climbing over and smothering native vegetation. It has clusters of fragrant white flowers tinged with pink and yellow, and shiny elliptical leaves. Seeds are shaped like a helicopter, and float through the air in high wind events and can travel up to 1.5km from the host plant. The project team are urging the community to be vigilant. If you think you’ve spotted a Hiptage infestation, get in touch with Pete and the team at Douglas Shire Council, on 4099 9444. The vine is difficult to kill and correct eradication methods are critical to stopping the spread.

Douglas Shire Council is the lead agent of the joint project, and works closely with Queensland Parks and Wildlife and local rangers. They have also had assistance from Jabalbina Aboriginal Corporation. Pete says Council takes a tenure-blind approach, teaming up and pooling resources to achieve the best outcomes and value-for-money.

Terrain’s Vanessa Drysdale is Terrain’s community partnerships officer for the Douglas region, and says that natural resource management is more effective when groups work together. “We know that we get better outcomes when we work collaboratively – projects like this make the best use possible of local knowledge, experience and capacity.  Douglas Shire Council is very proactive in the treatment of Hiptage and has demonstrated that early, consistent and strategic action can yield very successful long term outcomes. It's fantastic that we can continue this critical Hiptage work for another year, thanks to funding from the Queensland Government's Regional NRM investment.”

State investment will also enable Terrain to facilitate a Mossman/Daintree "Walking the Landscape" workshop later this year, to identify the best opportunities for actions that contribute to improved catchment and reef health. Stay tuned!