Gaining ground on hiptage

GAINING GROUND ON THE INVASIVE WEED HIPTAGE

Weed warriors are gaining ground on a major threat to the Mossman Gorge area’s world-heritage rainforest.

What is hiptage?

Hiptage is an invasive weed that’s smothering rainforest north of Cairns – and this vine from eastern India and south-east Asia grows so well in the Wet Tropics region that its sheer weight can bring down trees.

Work crews from Douglas Shire Council and the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service have been targeting the species for almost two decades, with council crews recently extending into new territory for this project thanks to funding from natural resource management organisation Terrain NRM.

Douglas Shire’s Biosecurity Team Leader Brad Everett said crews were hiking up rainforest gullies on a hill known as ‘ground zero’. They take chainsaws, hand saws, secateurs and knapsack sprayers.

“It’s hard work. The whole north side of Butcher’s Hill is infested,’’ he said. “But it’s rewarding work too. We had spots we’d take people, to show them just how bad hiptage gets, where the vine was almost impenetrable.

“Now we go back in there for follow-up work on a biannual basis and there are a few vines and seedlings. The native forest is getting a chance to regenerate and self-seed.”

Where is hiptage found?

Hiptage exists in a 60-hectare section of the Mossman River catchment, with Tara Hills identified as the core infestation area and the gateway for Mossman Gorge National Park infestations.

Crews have recently tackled a six-hectare area on the east side of Butcher’s Hill.

Working with local councils

Terrain NRM’s Chelsy Maloney said the project was part of a ‘Native Vegetation – Many Hands Make Light Work’ program funded by the Queensland Government’s Natural Resources Investment Program. Terrain is also working with the Cassowary Coast Regional Council and Tablelands Regional Council.

“Our goal is to improve the resilience of big patches of native vegetation,’’ she said. “This project brought together councils from across the region to decide on priority areas where we can make measurable improvements over several years through on-ground works.”

For more information, visit our project page and Douglas Shire Council’s website.

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