The buck stops with buckthorn

Works to eradicate an infestation of Italian buckthorn (Rhamnus alaternus) at Spring Creek in Torquay are set to begin as the Great Ocean Road Coast Committee and RACV Torquay Resort work together with Jan Juc Coast Action to bring the weed under control.

Great Ocean Road Coast Conservation Supervisor Evan Francis said that Italian buckthorn threatens the native biodiversity of the coast.  “Buckthorn forms a dense, evergreen canopy that shades out native understorey plants, and out-competes indigenous species for water and nutrients. One mature plant could produce up to 10,000 seedlings in just one season meaning that Italian buckthorn is enemy weed number one along the Surf Coast foreshore.”

Italian buckthorn is regularly found in suburban backyards, and due to its anchor like root system, is very difficult to pull out, even as a seedling.  Mr Francis said that the best method to eradicate Italian buckthorn is to cut the stem of the tree as low to the ground as possible and apply an appropriate herbicide directly to the stump

As part of RACV’s Community Good Citizen Program, RACV Torquay have awarded a $5,000 grant towards the works and the Great Ocean Road Coast Committee have provided an additional $2000 contribution to Jan Juc Coast Action for the plant’s removal.

Jan Juc Coast Action member Graeme Stockton said that a collaborative approach is the key to a good ecological outcome. “Invasive environmental weeds often become a big problem when they cross land management boundaries. Not so along the Jan Juc cliff tops where the RACV, the Great Ocean Road Coast Committee and Jan Juc Coast Action are working collectively to stop key weeds invading. Plants like Italian buckthorn could easily overrun clifftop vegetation and degrade coastal habitat for native birds and animals.”

RACV Torquay Resort Operations Manager Bowen Kress said:  “We live in a pristine coastal location and this project is a critical step in preserving the beauty of the Surf Coast so we can continue to enjoy it for years to come. RACV’s Good Citizen Program focuses on providing funding for projects like this that give back to our Community.”

Due to its prolific ability to produce seed, and for that seed to remain viable for long periods of time, Italian buckthorn is a constant problem along all areas of the coast, with some major infestations present in and around Torquay. Italian buckthorn can be found in coastal dunes, heathlands and woodlands and is considered a serious environmental weed along the Surf Coast. The Great Ocean Road Coast Committee’s conservation team, along with local volunteer groups, spend significant amounts of time tackling the problem.

Italian buckthorn is a large evergreen shrub that can grow up to 3 metres tall, producing large amounts of seed over the summer months. Native to southern Europe, north western Africa and western Asia, Italian buckthorn thrives in Australia’s Mediterranean climate and is commonly found on our coastal and inland environments.

Photo: Representatives from RACV Torquay, Jan Juc Coast Action, and the Great Ocean Road Coast Committee.

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