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Applying the art of war to stubborn weeds

A coordinated "pincer movement" by a determined army of Floating Landcare volunteers, led by Greater Sydney Local Land Services has seen an infestation of the stubborn environmental weed Mother of Millions all but defeated at Muogamarra Nature Reserve near Cowan on the northern outskirts of Sydney.

Rebecca Mooy, Senior Land Services Officer at Greater Sydney Local Land Services says the victory is the latest achievement for Floating Landcare, which has been running since late 2012.

"The program been extremely successful with well over 400 volunteers making more than 40 boat trips to 15 remote sites on the Hawkesbury River estuary – resulting in some 2000 hours of volunteer labour, $25,000 of in-kind support from project partners and five events run for corporate volunteers from Telstra, Price Waterhouse Coopers and Konika Minolta," said Rebecca.

Floating Landcare takes volunteers to boat-access-only sites in the Hawkesbury estuary to carry out bush regeneration and environmental repairs including weeding and give them a unique wilderness land management experience on the edge of Sydney.

"Mother of Millions is a damaging weed that has escaped from gardens and is threatening the foreshore bushland of the Hawkesbury estuary. It spreads readily, with new plants growing from even the smallest piece of plant material.

"Our plan was to stop this infestation, which originated from a very old house site on the foreshore, before it could spread further," said Rebecca.

"Using a technique called 'wagon-wheeling', Floating Landcare volunteers removed the weeds by hand. While follow up will be necessary for complete eradication, the painstaking work has halted the advance of the weed in that area.

"Much of our work with Floating Landcare is about halting relatively small outbreaks of weeds in very remote parts of the estuary before they spread into the healthy foreshore bushland and turn into major problems," said Rebecca.

Floating Landcare's volunteers like Ian Clarke who has been involved since early 2013, have  enjoyed visiting remote sites on the estuary.

"Tackling Mother of Millions was satisfying – though it should be called Mother of Billions, as just walking through it can cause it to spread! But seeing the difference we've made at other sites is really inspiring. We've really helped bring patches of weeds under control," said Ian.

Floating Landcare is a project coordinated by the Greater Sydney Local Land Services in partnership with Pittwater, Hornsby and Gosford Councils and National Parks and Wildlife Service with funding from the NSW Environmental Trust.

Floating Landcare's next event is a bush regeneration outing on Sunday, 17 August 2014. For more details go to http://www.hornsby.nsw.gov.au/environment/trees,-plants-and-bushland/floating-landcare

Media contact: Joanna Woutersz (02) 4725 3064