DURING 2018 members of the Mt Worth and Triholm Landcare Groups met to discuss the lack of any progress, despite many years of trying to persuade Agriculture Victoria to take action on landholders who had major weed problems.
Personal approaches had been fruitless and the department advised that it would “prioritise its enforcement effort to areas where partnerships with the community can achieve the most effective long term management outcomes”.
The government suggested Landcare groups consider engaging a facilitator through the Victorian Blackberry Taskforce (VBT) to assist with “enhancing your community led approach to weed management.
This was despite continuous advice that the problem particularly related to ragwort and thistles.
The groups contacted the VBT which is based in Victoria’s north east and met with its chairperson and executive officer.
It was agreed that the VBT could fund a project in the Western Strzeleckis, if blackberries were addressed as well as the priority weeds.
Money was allocated and a project officer appointed to contact landowners who had been identified as having issues with weeds.
The project had two objectives:
1. To engage with landholders and assist them to develop a three year action plan to address their weed issues.
2. To develop a record of contact with landowners to assist our argument with Agriculture Victoria that community action had been as rigorous as possible and recourse to their enforcement powers was now required for the small number of landowners who did not respond to the direct assistance.
Whist the project has some time yet to run, by February 2019, the project officer had tried to contact most of the names on the list but had found that only a small number of landholders were willing to consider developing an action plan.