Friends of The Pinnacle   weed control  

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Bob triumphantThe invasion of weeds is arguably one of the most obvious and serious threats to the environmental values of The Pinnacle. The consequences include the elimination of native grass species and the destruction of habitat that native birds and animals use for shelter, food and nesting. Weeds also alter bushfire pattern and intensity, and contribute to loss of plant cover and soil disturbance.

If you walk through the park in late spring or early summer you could suddenly be in a forest of vicious saffron thistles. You will see large patches of horehound on the north side of The Pinnacle - a plant that displaces local flora - and walk through a virtual sea of sorrel and exotic grasses. The weed menace is now so great that only a few small sections of the reserve contain a natural suite of plants.

A weed can be an exotic or native species that colonises and persists in an ecosystem in which it did not previously exist. Weeds range in size from small herbs (e.g. Paterson's Curse, Verbascum sp.) and grasses to shrubs (e.g. Briar Rose, Cotoneaster sp.) and trees (e.g. Chinese Pistachio).

Weed Management Plan

Following a systematic weed survey conducted in Spring 2009, fotpin compiled a 10 year Community Weed Management Plan for The Pinnacle Nature Reserve [ pdf 1.2 MB], a draft of which was released for community comment in May 2010.

The draft Plan proposes a goal and objectives for managing weeds at The Pinnacle Nature Reserve. It identifies priority weeds and management principles, treatments, spatial priorities and continuous improvement strategies for weed control. The Plan estimates the effort required to achieve the Plan's performance targets, and compares that to current weeding effort on a seasonal basis.

Priority weeds for control, identified on the basis of the 2009 survey (see sections 3 and 4.1 of the Plan), included: African Love Grass; St. John's Wort; Blackberry and a range of woody weeds (including briar rose, cotoneaster and privet); Saffron, Nodding and Scotch Thistle; Horehound; Verbascum spp; Paterson's Curse; Sorrel; and Capeweed. Control treatments depend on the weed species and season, and include spraying with herbicides, slashing, grubbing, and (for shrubs and trees) cutting and dabbing with herbicide.

Significantly, as well as tackling the weeds, the Plan deals with the challenge of increasing and improving the area and condition of native grasses across the reserve. It is proposed to slash large areas of exotic grasses prior to seed set, so that later seeding native grasses can out-compete exotic grasses and gradually recolonise slashed areas. This strategy will be complemented with an experimental approach to directly restoring native grasses by sequentially burning, slashing, harvesting a crop plant and soil treatment - see Defeating the Weed Menace.

A monitoring and reporting program is included in the Plan in order to to maximise the efficiency and effectiveness of its implementation (see section 5 of the Plan).

The Plan concluded that the major barrier to weed management is trained volunteer time and effort. This is therefore a prime target for fotpin activity. It was estimated, without including time for monitoring and reporting, that achieving the Plan's performance targets will initially require 1,182 hours per year, distributed across autumn (135 hours), winter (132), spring (447) and summer (468). In addition to current effort levels, a further 462 hours of trained volunteer time is needed, respectively distributed across the seasons.

Implementation Status

The Weed Plan has now been in place for four years. On average over those four years 1,160 hours per year has been spent on weed control, just short of the requirement projected in the Weed Plan (1,182 hours). However this effort has not just been applied to the area designated in the Weed Plan, namely the Pinnacle Nature Reserve; weed control has been extended beyond the Reserve to include the bordering paddocks of North Kama and Bottom Pinnacle (see the location map), primarily to provide buffering against weed infestation of the Reserve from those quarters. Average effort spent on the Reserve has been 910 hours, and this has been sufficient to keep the major weeds in check and produce a measurable decline in several weed types. Evidence for the latter is being gradually compiled and will be made available on this website. One of the first examples of the decline in weed population and therefore in the effort required to control it is illustrated by Verbascum.


Current Weeding Activities

Activity Frequency Contact

Spraying. Our main form of weed control is spraying with herbicides (60% of our effort in 2013-14). The Parkcare Volunteer Policy requires all sprayers to be Chemcert accredited, and funds are available for that. We spray St John's Wort, African Lovegrass, Paterson's Curse, Verbascum, Thistles, Briars and Blackberry when conditions are appropriate in spring, summer and autumn.
Several times each week during spring, summer and autumn Warren

Weekly weeding parties tackle weeds by chipping (hoeing), pulling and, when necessary, bagging flower and seed heads.

Weather permitting, weeding teams patrol the Reserve every Thursday and occasional Saturday mornings.

Contact Bob (Thursdays) or Len (Saturdays) to receive regular emails regarding upcoming weeding parties.
Every Thursday morning (weather permitting)

Occasional Saturday mornings
(weather permitting)
Len Taylor

Slashing. An effective method to control Saffron Thistle (and some other weeds) is slashing just prior to seed setting. We use both brushcutters and scythes, as appropriate. Slashing mainly occurs in late Spring. Prior to using a brushcutter or scythe on The Pinnacle, volunteers are required to receive brief training from ACT Parks and Conservation Service for Health and Safety purposes; this is arranged by fotpin.
Opportunistic Warren

The activities of weeding teams are advertised in This Week on The Pinnacle.


Weeding Resources

fotpin weeding tools

GPS for fotpins

Basic instructions for the Garmin etrex-10 [ pdf  341 kB ]

etrex-10, 20, 30 Owner's Manual [ pdf  1.1 MB ]


Chemical usage guide - which chemical at what concentration for which weeds [ pdf  8 kB ]

The Scythe Connection - information on using and maintaining scythes

Weed and plant identification

Weed Identification Tool - ACT and Southern Tablelands

ANBG plant identification resources


Weed alerts

Coolatai Grass Alert November 2017:

This is a highly invasive drought, fire and herbicide tolerant weed that can invade undisturbed natural ecosystems. Coolatai Grass has not been detected in the ACT but infestations are present to the north and south in NSW.

Coolatai Grass Details [ pdf  250 kB ]

Fireweed Alert July 2014: Overview of identification and actions to take if found [ pdf  236 kB ]

Detailed background, identification, control and reporting [ pdf  1.6 MB ]

Fireweed Alert October 2011 [ pdf  390 kB ] - guide to identification and actions to take if found

African Lovegrass Resources

Information on distribution, control, identification, etc from the Southern ACT Catchment Group

Further Reading

fotpin Community Weed Management Plan for The Pinnacle Nature Reserve [ pdf  1.2 MB ]

ACT Weeds Forum, March 2012

ACT PCS Fact Sheet: Volunteers and the use of herbicides [ pdf  407 kB ]

ACT PCS Environmental Weed Control Guidelines, July 2013 pdf 3.7 MB ]

NSW DPI Noxious and Environmental Weed Control Handbook, Nov 2014 pdf 2.6 MB ]

[a guide to weed control in non-crop, aquatic and bushland situations

Weeds in Australia [useful information about managing weeds in the Australian context]

Weed Information Network [learn more about invasive plants and weed control systems]


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