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IF there’s one thing these Margaret River residents have learned, it’s that tackling the threat of invasive arum lilies is a team effort.

Ann Ward, Federico Butron and Neil Tumelty are neighbouring landowners on Kevill and Connelly roads close to the Margaret River in an area where the toxic lilies once dominated the landscape, outcompeting native species and destroying any habitat for wildlife. But after joining Nature Conservation’s Arum Lily Blitz and through their combined efforts, the poisonous weed species has been massively reduced and is close to being eradicated on their properties.

“Working together, it’s been a marvellous success,” says Ms Ward. “If one of us wasn’t controlling arums, we’d be letting each other down and we’d be letting the entire street down. All it takes is one landholder not to make the effort and they’ll keep reinfesting the properties where people are doing the right thing.”

When Ann bought her property adjacent to the Margaret River in 1997, it was 95 per cent infested with arums. Now, it’s almost arum free and a whopping 7,500 native seedlings have gone in the ground, creating habitat for wildlife which is now returning. Meanwhile, Ann has been busy spreading the word to other landholders nearby. “We’re all custodians and we have to leave this place in the best condition we can,” she says. “Nature Conservation has made it very easy because you can get the herbicide for free and spray it yourself or get their contractors in to do the work for you. If everyone works together, we can do this. Previously people thought it was impossible to get rid of, but it’s worked at my place and the birds, owls, quendas, frogs – they’re all returning and it’s incredible. You’re rewarded a thousand fold.”

When Federico Butron and his partner Lauren bought a nearby block, they too got stuck into spray arum lilies to control their spread. “After four years we’ve made great progress. It was a sea of arums and now you just see the odd one popping up,” says Federico. “The issue for us was we were working on our block but around us were big seed banks on other blocks. Slowly one by one we talked to the property owners and they got on board, which has made a huge difference. The diversity of species we now see popping up is amazing. But you can’t do it without your neighbours being on board too.”

Meanwhile, Neil Tumelty and his wife are about to move into their new house just up the hill from Federico after buying the block five years ago. “I didn’t know much about arum lily at the time but Federico told me about them,” he says. “I started spraying straight away because we’ve got to do our bit. You don’t want them spreading to the block next door. I just think if everyone else is doing it, you don’t want to be the one stuck in the middle with all these lilies. You’ve got to try and get on top of it and eradicate it. You don’t want them spreading because they’re terrible bloody things.”

The Arum Lily Blitz is back for its 5th year, with an ambitious goal of signing up a record number of landholders to help eradicate the region’s worst weed from more bushland than ever before. Nature Conservation says real wins are being made to bring back bushland and biodiversity, with more than 1600 landholders joining a suite of local on-ground groups and government agencies controlling arums across 20,000-plus hectares.

Nature Conservation wants the 2023 Arum Lily Blitz to be the most successful yet by:

  • Recruiting an additional 100 landholders to join the Blitz and handing over free herbicide the control arums on their property
  • Partnering with more local groups, volunteer organisations and government agencies to widen the net of bushland where arums are being controlled
  • Plugging the biggest gaps where arum control is not happening
  • Leading a major push to control arums in the southern part of the Leeuwin Naturaliste National Park in the wake of the December 2021 bushfire
  • Urging everyone to take to social media and share their stories and pictures of fighting arums with the hashtag “#arumlilyblitz”

The South African species outcompetes our unique and colourful wildflowers, degraded forests, and chokes out understorey vegetation and crucial wildlife habitat. But the Blitz has been hitting back with a coordinated region-wide attack on arums, funded by the WA Government’s State Natural Resources Management Program until 2024. The Blitz offers free herbicide, information and resources to people who are keen to do their bit, and brings together local and state government agencies, businesses and landholders for coordinated control.

All landholders are urged to join the Blitz, regardless of land size and experience level. Find out more, register and see how to get your free herbicide at

Caption: Ann Ward, Federico Butron and Neil Tumelty havge joined forces to fight arums. Picture by: Trevor Paddenburg