It's No Bed of Roses: The Development of an EMS for Weed Management at Binna Burra Mountain Lodge, Lamington National Park
Mr. Kerry Yates, FCPA
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This presentation will discuss the process followed in developing an ISO 14001 based weed management plan for Binna Burra Lodge, Lamington National Park. Coverage will include: the ecological importance of Lamington National Park, current issues faced in weed control and the proposed weed management strategy, research undertaken in establishing a base line potential weeds list and best practice weed control methodologies, work done in conducting a base line weeds survey and the subsequent establishment of an integrated weed management framework, the implementation of an ISO 14001 based Environmental Management System (EMS) and a retrospective review of the EMS is it working? Lessons learnt from the process will be discussed
The project's key deliverables will be shared with delegates, viz: EMS Gap Analysis: where was Binna Burra pre-EMS, and where does it have to be to develop and implement an ISO 14001 based EMS, the base Line Potential Weed List and Survey: a list of potential weeds, against which a weed survey can be conducted and a weed management plan established and the EMS Manual as developed for Binna Burra.
The International Standard for Environmental Management Systems, ISO 14001 can be applied to many organisations and specific areas of environmental concern. The application of the Standard to National Park Management and their need for weed control, is a useful tool in maintaining a valuable asset and in particular for managing a key environmental threat.
Keywords: EMS, National Park, weeds, ISO14001
The application of an EMS to a national park situation can have many implications and facets. The first requirement is to define the scope of the EMS in terms of what it will and will not cover.
An EMS for weed control could be part of a more general Environmental Management System, or be a largely stand alone entity. We take the view that depending on how the problem is rated in terms of the particular park, then the generalist or specific approach will be taken. For Binna Burra we have chosen the middle ground. The critical factor is the integration of the EMS into the overall management plan.
The EMS that is being produced will contain an overview of the environmental management that is required in the Binna Burra Lodge area, as being part of the National Park. It will be specific on weeds that occur in the Lodge area, but will look at factors in the National Park that effect weed spread, the consequences of weed existence, and the means and effectiveness of control measures.
We are conscious of the renewed interest in Fire Control in national parks since the summer devastation of the Royal National Park (Sydney) and are investigating the relationship between weeds, weed control, native flora maintenance, public access, and fire control.
2.0 THE SIZE OF THE PROBLEM
"Weeds are one of the greatest threats to biodiversity Worldwide. They cost Australia at least $3.3 billion a year in lost production, environmental damage and control costs, of which Queensland accounts for around $500 million" Stephen Robertson, Natural Resources Minister (Qld DNRM, Sept. 2001)
"Lantana costs Queensland farming $7.7 million per year and poisons 1500 head of cattleWith leaves toxic to animals, but berries delectable to seed-dispersing birds, Lantana now occupies 4 million hectares of Australian countryside" Dr Tony Grice, CSIRO Scientist (The Courier Mail, 12/1/2002)
2.1 THE CHALLENGE
· To develop and implement a Weed Management Program for Binna Burra Lodge.
· To integrate Binna Burra's EMS within Lamington National Park's Weed Management programs.
2.2 ISSUES FACING BINNA BURRA & THE NATIONAL PARK
1. The necessity to accommodate a human traffic of 500,000 visitors annually, with high growth expectations,
2. Continual habitat degradation/destruction that is occurring both knowingly & unknowingly,
3. The continuing introduction of exotic species i.e. destructive fauna & flora invaders and
4. Pollution from tourism enterprises and vehicles.
2.3 KEY DELIVERABLES
A Methodology/Approach to establishing an EMS, by using the example of Binna Burra Lodge and the adjacent national park.
Binna Burra Deliverables:
1. The formulation of an EMS Gap Analysis for use in assessing the environmental status of the target area.
2. The completion of Base Line Potential Weed List and Survey,
3. A Weeds Management Plan (a key criteria) and finally
4. An EMS Manual, the framework for weeds control.
3.0 REVIEW OF WHAT IS AN EMS - JUST ANOTHER SWAG OF DOCUMENTS?
An EMS must be a working system, if it is to be anything but a minor marketing tool. It must answer some need. The need in this case is the provision of acceptable and workable guidelines on how to manage weeds in a National Park environment.
The document should be a source of background (knowledge) as to what is the problem, and how it developed (is developing). It should contain goals that are achievable, and should have a mechanism for review and change.
The mother milk statements should be at a minimum, the action statements should be emphasised, and it should define resources that are available and/or that are required to tackle the problem. Perhaps the mother's milk statement could be limited to 'there is a need to avoid this national park being reduced to a collection of Lantana, Bridal Creeper, Bitou Bush, Privet, Dutchmen's Pipe and Mimosa Pigra.
4.0 WEED CONTROL IN A NATIONAL PARK.
To be able to produce an EMS some definitions and basic concepts must be delineated. These are:
4.1 WHAT IS A WEED IN THIS SITUATION?
A plant that is either an exotic or native species that is NOT of benefit to the park and is causing plants that are of benefit (are wanted) to be displaced.
The inclusion of native plant species as part of the weed set may be controversial, but it is necessary, since with disturbance of the original plant balance, many flora species may take advantage of an easy option to proliferate.
4.2 UNDERSTANDING THE MAJOR ISSUE ie THE LOSS OF BIODIVERSITY
Biodiversity is a very desirable facet of any natural system. For a national park, the presence and display of biodiversity is a key draw-card.
Weeds are a crucial environmental threat to biodiversity and thus the existence of national parks. Some examples of major threats are:
· Lantana thickets choking native vegetation in areas of open grassland and small shrubs
· Mistflower and Crofton weed thriving along waterways at the expense of native shrubs,
· Camphor laurel displacing major tree species in the Park and
· Bridal creeper strengthening its insidious hold along coastal pockets, where it smothers mature and immature native trees..
A detailed example of the threat to a species of local butterfly, through the loss of supporting biodiversity is given in Appendix 1.
5.0 BINNA BURRA LODGE AND LAMINGTON NATIONAL PARK
5.1 BINNA BURRA'S LOCATION AND IMPORTANCE
Where and what is Binna Burra Lodge?
A freeholding of 38 ha, situated within the World Heritage listed Lamington National Park (20,500 ha) in south-east Queensland, on the Queensland New South Wales border.
Why is it important?
The park provides a sanctuary for many native flora species that can be maintained (and possibly saved) through directed and in some cases only by intensive weed management.
The production of the EMS on weed management will be one of the tools that Binna Burra will have to maintain the native flora in its precinct.
The importance of Binna Burra is demonstrated by its accreditations that are currently held. These are:
1. Eco-Tourism Association of Australia advanced accreditation,
2. Green Globe status the global environmental benchmarking system for sustainable travel and tourism, and
3. Land for Wildlife Site
5.2 LAMINGTON NATIONAL PARK'S IMPORTANCE
It is the largest remaining tract of undisturbed subtropical rainforest, forming part of the World Heritage listed Central Eastern Rainforest Reserve of Australia (CERRA). It is the home of primitive plant families that have direct links with the birth of flowering plants over 100 million years ago, as well as some of the oldest elements of the World's ferns and conifers
"of outstanding value and must be conserved for all time" (Environment Australia, 1997).
5.3 THE INTERRELATIONSHIP OF LAMINGTON NATIONAL PARK AND BINNA BURRA
The Binna Burra habitat could be considered a sub-set of the Park's habitat. As such it can offer the Park the following:
· A sanctuary for some of its flora and fauna that are under threat,
· A proving ground for weed management systems,
· A source of native species for re-colonisation of damaged areas of the Park and
· As a source of assistance in Park maintenance from its staff and support groups.
6.0 WEEDS CONTROL CURRENT SITUATION
In Binna Burra there are ecological hot-spots. These are some signs of environmental neglect from 70 years of commercial activities. They concern weed infestation and loss of native flora.
A Weeds Management Plan is not yet formalised, but is being addressed, albeit somewhat haphazardly. A Land Management Plan, to minimise land degradation, is not yet in place but is being formulated.
The Fire Management that falls under the control of Lamington National Park should be strengthened and should be part of an integrated Land Management Plan.
6.1 METHODOLOGY & PROCESS IN PREPARING AN EMS
To reiterate the methodology in preparing an EMS will dictate that the following are established:
· Weeds Management Team,
· Gap Analysis as per ISO 14000,
· A base line of potential weeds,
· A weeds identification survey, and
· An integrated weeds management policy, strategy & plan involving all stakeholders.
The EMS that comes out of the above will have a review mechanism as part of its structure.
6.2 PROPOSED WEEDS MANAGEMENT STRATEGY
6.21 The underlying strategy is to prioritise weed control efforts as follows:
Priority 1: Concentrate on weeds not yet found at Binna Burra with emphasis on education (weed identification) and the need for on-going monitoring, weed surveys and pre/post burn-off surveys,
Priority 2: Manage weeds that Binna Burra has few of weed species that are more easily controllable, and
Priority 3: For all other weeds, the weed management plan calls for a more integrated long term control program and greater need for a coordinated effort.
6.22 Gap Analysis a Framework for building an EMS
The undertaking of a EMS Gap Analysis for which the
key criteria will be:
Weeds Identification and thus Prioritisation,
What control methods best suit the particular weeds,
What is current best practice in weeds management, and
Who are the major stakeholders in Binna Burra's Weeds Management.
6.23 Other criteria will involve Control Issues, and will include:
· Fire Management ie fire trails/breaks
· Native plant refuges ie natural sites, herbarium, nursery, to maintain biodiversity,
· STP, Sludge & Solid Waste control in areas of major human contact,
· People & Vehicle Management,
· Integration between Binna Burra Lodge and National Parks and
· Availability of resources to meet management plans.
6.24 Criteria for Control Methods
1. The establishment of a Prioritisation System that will have features including Education, Early Recognition & Action
2 The creation of Management Zones & Map Plotting of Weed infestations,
3. The creation, presentation and distribution of a Management Plan (with Budget & Resources commitment), and
4. The involvement of stakeholders National Parks, Shire Councils, power/gas/roads/water authorities, Local Associations.
6.25 Fostering research
Of great use at this stage would be the fostering of research to establish a base line of environmental weeds and their control. The research should involve major institutions (universities, research establishments and corporations), but should also involve community organisations.
6.26 Local Government involvement.
Living in a three tier government system means that local Government will be major stakeholders in Park survival and in some cases management.
In the case of Binna Burra, Beaudesert Shire is the Local Govt with a major stake, since Binna Burra falls within its boundaries. That stake is demonstrated through Beaudesert's Local Govt Pest Management Plan  The Shire also has a Weed List: Declared Pest Plants and a Weed Management Initiative - Lantana camara to be subjected to biological control using a fungus from South America. (per com Mein Niemeyer)
6.27 Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service involvement.
Since Binna Burra sits within the World Heritage Listed Lamington National Park there is the need for discussion/integration with National Park management.
A 'Draft Management Plan for Lamington National Park' includes 48 species of non-native plants found in the park, with 12 identified as problem species:
7.0 FIRE, FIRE CONTROL AND WEED MANAGEMENT
Controlled Burns Weed Elimination or Expansion ?
Rangers periodically undertake fuel reduction burning on the slopes below Binna Burra Lodge. A Weed Management Program should include ongoing monitoring of the burned areas to gauge the effect of burning on eg. Mistflower and Crofton weeds.
Controlled burns should be timed for maximum effect on weed control, ie. either before or after flowering, depending on the effect of burning on seed propagation (per com Ross Patterson). Further controlled burns should be undertaken with a maximum understanding of the seasonal climatic changes, and the reaction of native flora and weeds to those changes.
Along with controlled burns, the use of bio-agents, weedicides, and other weed control measures must be considered, and used to maximise the control over weed re-infestation. A multi faceted approach, based on good knowledge is required.
The relationship of fire, fire control and weed management in forests and grasslands are subjects of on-going research.
8.0 BINNA BURRA'S 6 ZONES OF WEED MANAGEMENT
In Appendix 2, is the break-up of Binna Burra's Weed Management Programme. The six zones of weed management are used in the attached Base Line weed List and Survey, Appendix 3.
The pending action is to develop an EMS for Weeds Management. Further proposed action will include the preparation of a Binna Burra Land Management Plan, incorporating Weed Management, a Fire Management Action Plan and co-ordination to ensure that the Binna Burra Land Management Plan fits to the Lamington National Park Management Plan.
Will this be enough ? That will depend on the resources and enthusiasm of the stakeholders to make weed control and eradication a reality.
1. 'Pest Management Plan: July 1999 June 2002' (Beaudesert Shire, 2001)
2. 'Draft Management Plan for Lamington National Park' (QPWS, March 1999)
AN EXAMPLE OF THE PENDING LOSS OF A LITTLE BIT OF BIO-DIVERSITY
Richmond Birdwing Butterfly - Ornithoptera Richmondia*
What do we know about the O. Richmondia?
Dramatic decline of abundance & distribution over the past 100 years. Originally found from Maryborough Qld to Grafton NSW, now found in about one-third of its original range.
Principal food sources for its larvae:
· Pararistolochia praevenosa - an understory vine in lowland sub-tropical rainforest remnant areas
· Pararistolochia laheyana - an understory vine in the Border & Nightcap ranges above 800 Meters
Survival of the O. Richmondia
· Land clearing loss of coastal rainforests
· Depletion of lowland food plant Pararistolochia praevenosa
· Deadly lowland competition: Dutchman's Pipe vine, Aristolochia elegans (South America), attracts oviposition, but toxic to the larvae.
· Periodic extinctions of Richmond Birdwings in higher altitudes, due to climatic stress, poor re-colonisation
· Research on butterfly host plant interactions
· Minimise land clearing & replant flora
· Weed Control - Dutchman's Pipe (A. elegans)
Don Sands, CSIRO, 12/2001
Binna Burra's 6 Zones of Weed Management
· Lodge and surrounds,
· Camping ground and kiosk,
· Bellbird Clearing and high ropes facility,
· Old market gardens and horse trails,
· Human waste treatment plant (STP) and
Low ropes facility, and
· Cliff tracks and abseiling points.
The 'Base Line Weed List and Survey (By Zones)
You are welcome to quote up to a maximum of three paragraphs from the above white paper, on condition that you include attribution to this website, as follows:
SOURCE: M.E.T.T.S. Pty. Ltd. Website http://www.metts.com.au
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