Collaboration key to arum lily assault
More success stories are emerging as Nature Conservation’s Arum Lily Blitz ramps up, including at Deepdene near Augusta where landholders, volunteer groups and government agencies are combining forces to fight the toxic weed.
Former market gardener Peter Wren has been battling arum lilies since the 1980s on his 311-acre property on Turner Brook at Deepdene, which is mostly bushland and borders Caves Road, the Cape to Cape Track, Deepdene Beach and the Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park.
But reinforcements have arrived to boost his efforts against the South African invader – with the Friends of the Cape to Cape Track (FOCCT) tackling arums along the famous hiking trail, Nature Conservation’s on-ground team helping him control arums on his property on a 50-50 cost-share basis, and the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (DBCA) carrying our control in the national park nearby. It’s a story being echoed up and down the Capes region.
“If you’re fighting arum lilies at your place, the message is you are not alone,” says Nature Conservation’s Blitz coordinator Mike Griffiths. “We’re here to support landholders along with a whole host of community and volunteer groups and government agencies that are really taking the problem seriously. Working together is the key.”
Mr Wren bought his property in 1972, operating a market garden and running cattle, but arum lilies and other weeds were already “as thick as a carpet”. “They love growing in these conditions and the seed is carried by the birds and spread all over the place,” he says. “At that time arums were a declared weed and we had to do something, first just in the paddocks and then I realised they were really spreading in the creek lines and shaded bushland. Eventually I had more time and started controlling them using a spraying backpack along the creek lines. I must have sprayed tens of thousands of arum lilies over the years.”
After decades on tackling arums on his own, Mr Wren says there is now a groundswell of effort. And he urged other landholders to get on board. “It’s huge the way everyone is stepping up,” he says. “The agencies, the Friends of the Cape to Cape Track, my neighbours around Turner Brook, they’re all doing more. People are more conscious of it and they want to do the right thing. They’re willing, and that’s great because we need to act now to slow down arums as well as other weeds.”
FOCCT arum coordinator Jenny Kikeros said the arum invasion has an “immense impact on our native vegetation and fauna is immense” but “with a combined effort arums can be controlled”. Last year, FOCCT volunteers did 200-plus hours of arum spraying. “Throwing your hands up saying it’s all too hard doesn’t work,” she says. “There is always a solution and working together is the key. You can make a difference, and in doing so you build relationships, make new friends and help protect our environment.”
That was echoed by Renee Keesing, who works for DBCA’s Parks and Wildlife Service in the Blackwood district, who also said controlling arums needed a “strategic, coordinated approach on a landscape scale across all land tenures”. She said her department will build on previous arum control in areas such as Yallingup, Quinninup, Moses Rock, Ellensbrook, Deepdene and Boranup this year, plus potential new areas at West Bay, Cosy Corner and Bob’s Hollow.
Now in its 5th year, Nature Conservation’s Arum Lily Blitz now involves more than 1600 landholders who are accessing free herbicide, joining a suite of groups and agencies controlling arums over more than 20,000 hectares, with funding from the WA Government’s State Natural Resources Management Program until 2024.
“But the message is that arum lilies are tenacious and we need to keep up the fight,” says Blitz coordinator Mike Griffiths. “They outcompete the unique and colourful wildflowers, degrade forests, and choke out understorey vegetation and crucial wildlife habitat with it. Just one neighbour who doesn’t control arums can let down their entire street or suburb because arums will spread and re-seed from there.”
Anyone tackling arums is also urged to take to social media with their stories and pictures using the hashtag “#arumlilyblitz”. Find out more and register at www.natureconservation.org.au
Photo: Teaming up in the fight on arum lilies is Deepdene landholder Peter Wren, DBCA’s Renee Keesing, Friends of the Cape to Cape Track’s Jenny Kikeros and Nature Conservation’s Mike Griffiths.