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Australian Government invests in fireweed research

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The Hon. Dr Mike Kelly AM MP Parliamentar y Secretar y for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestr y

Australian Government invests in fireweed research

6 October 2010 DAFF10/015K

The Gillard Labor Government is delivering on a 2007 election commitment by investing in new onground research into the impact of fireweed on biodiversity and productivity in Australia.

Parliamentary Secretary for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Dr Mike Kelly, said the Government was investing $300 000 in a fireweed research project, as part of the $15.3 million National Weeds and Productivity Research Program.

The government has entered into a two-year contract with the University of New England.

“The University of New England will report on existing knowledge and undertake new on-ground research into fireweed ecology,” Dr Kelly said.

“They will also gather data for the consideration of fireweed as a Weed of National Significance.”

“Fireweed can dominate pastures and is a major threat to livestock industry productivity in affected areas such as in the Bega Valley in New South Wales.”

“Since its introduction to the Hunter Valley from South Africa around 1918, fireweed has spread north and south in coastal New South Wales and southern Queensland and is now invading pastures on the Monaro and Northern Tablelands of New South Wales,”

“It is responsible for illness, slow growth and poor conditioning in cattle and can result in death.”

Industry and community groups across fireweed affected areas will be involved in the project to help raise awareness about best practice management of fireweed.

“Landcare and community groups such as the Bega Valley Fireweed Association, industry groups such as Meat and Livestock Australia, local beef and dairy associations and state agriculture departments will be invited to work with the University of New England as key stakeholders,” Dr Kelly said.

“The University of New England will also work with the CSIRO to investigate potential biological control agents in the KwaZulu-Natal province of South Africa.”

The University of New England has been selected to undertake the research on fireweed through a competitive tender.

For more information on the National Weeds and Productivity Research Program visit their website.