The 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.
Fotpin's weed control activities have been based on a Weed Management Plan prepared by members in 2009-2010, based on a detailed survey of weeds present (more details below).
If you walked through the Reserve in late spring or early summer at that time you could suddenly be in a forest of vicious saffron thistles, surrounded by the bright yellow flowers of St. John's Wort or confronted by a thicket of briar roses or blackberries. The good news is that, thanks to the efforts of our volunteers, the worst weeds are much less prevalent now than they used to be and small native plants and grasses are slowly making a comeback. Continued vigilance is required to consolidate and extend these gains and make the Reserve an area where native plants are more visible than the weeds.
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). Not all weeds pose the same risk to native ecosystems. For more information, see our guide to the risk of all the exotic species that have been found on The Pinnacle Mature Reserve.
Current Weeding Activities
|Spraying. Our main form of weed control (60% of our effort in most seasons) is spraying with herbicides. We predominantly use selective broadleaf herbicides targeted to specific weed groups to minimise the possibility of affecting native plants. 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, Capeweed, Briars and Blackberry when conditions are appropriate in
spring, summer and autumn.
|Several times each week during spring, summer and autumn
|Weekly weeding parties tackle weeds by chipping
(hoeing), pulling, weed-wanding and, when necessary, bagging flower and seed heads.
Weather permitting, weeding teams patrol the Reserve on Thursday and either Saturday or Sunday morning most weeks.
Contact Bob (Thursdays) or Len (Saturdays or Sundays) to receive regular emails regarding upcoming weeding parties.
| Thursday mornings (weather permitting)
| Weekend mornings
|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.
The activities of weeding teams are advertised in This Week on The Pinnacle.
fotpin weeding tools
GPS for fotpins
Basic instructions for the Garmin etrex-10 [ 341 kB ]
etrex-10, 20, 30 Owner's Manual [ 1.1 MB ]
Chemical usage guide - which chemical at what concentration for which weeds [ 8 kB ]
The Scythe Connection - information on using and maintaining scythes
Weed and plant identification
Weeds in Australia Weed identification tool
Victorian Department of Agriculture A-Z of weeds
Lucid Keyserver for Plants of South Eastern New South Wales
Lucid Keyserver for Australian Weeds (Queensland edition)
Lucid Keyserver for Australian Grasses (Native and exotic)
Flora of Victoria
ANBG plant identification resources
Lucid Keyserver for Families of Australian Flowering Plants
Lucid Keyserver for Eucalypts of Australia
Lucid Keyserver for Acacias of Australia
Guide to Eucalypts of the ACT
Euphorbia (Spurges, Milkweed) Alert November 2021:
These plants are becoming more widespread in Canberra gardens and are finding their way into public areas. We have been dealing with several small but persistent colonies on the Pinnacle Nature Reserve for many years.
This recent alert stresses the need for care when handling them.
Euphorbia has a white milky sap that causes skin irritation and caustic effects when it comes into the contact with the skin. In contact with mucous membranes (eyes, nose, mouth), the milky sap can produce extremely painful inflammation. Exposure to recently cut plants can also cause breathing difficulties.
For more information see ACT Government's Euphorbia Safety Alert [ 252 kB ]
Red Buffalo Burr (or Sticky nightshade) Alert March 2021:
Red Buffalo Burr (Solanum sisymbriifolium) is an invasive plant that has sharp prickles which can injure people, pets and native animals.
It is an erect plant (to 1.5 m high) that is hairy and covered in very sharp prickles. It is an annual or short-lived perennial. Multiple, severe frosts may kill the above ground parts of the plant but it will reshoot from rhizomes in spring. It can flower within 5 weeks of germination or regrowth from rhizomes. Flowering is usually during spring and summer.
It has been found along the light rail corridor and in Pialligo.
Report any sightings to Citizen Science websites/apps like Canberra Nature Map http://canberra.naturemapr.org/ with a close up photograph.
More information and photos at: https://weeds.dpi.nsw.gov.au/Weeds/Stickynightshade.
African Feathergrass Alert March 2019:
This is a highly invasive clump-forming warm season grass that has recently been located along Cotter Road near Camp Cottermouth.
Report any other sightings to Citizen Science websites/apps like Canberra Nature Map http://canberra.naturemapr.org/ with a close up photograph.
African Feathergrass Details [ 250 kB ]
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 [ 250 kB ]
Fireweed Alert July 2014: Overview of identification and actions to take if found [ 236 kB ]
Detailed background, identification, control and reporting [ 1.6 MB ]
Fireweed Alert October 2011 [ 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
fotpin Community Weed Management Plan for The Pinnacle Nature Reserve [ 1.2 MB ]
ACT Weeds Forum, March 2012
ACT PCS Fact Sheet: Volunteers and the use of herbicides [ 407 kB ]
ACT PCS Environmental Weed Control Guidelines, July 2013 [ 3.7 MB ]
NSW DPI Noxious and Environmental Weed Control Handbook, 7th edn. Nov 2018 [ 3 MB ]
[a guide to weed control in non-crop, aquatic and bushland situations]
Weeds Australia [useful information about managing weeds in the Australian context]
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 [ 1.2 MB], a draft of which was released for community comment in May 2010.
The draft Plan proposed a goal and objectives for managing weeds at The Pinnacle Nature Reserve. It identified priority weeds and management principles, treatments, spatial priorities and continuous improvement strategies for weed control. The Plan estimated the effort required to achieve the Plan's performance targets, and compared that to weeding effort at the time 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 dealt with the challenge of increasing and improving the area and condition of native grasses across the reserve. It was 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 was 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 (now completed).
A monitoring and reporting program was 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 would initially require 1,182 hours per year, distributed across autumn (135 hours), winter (132), spring (447) and summer (468).
Aspects of the The Weed Plan are still evident in our current weed control activities, but the plan itself was superceded to some extent after a few years by its successful implementation, with many of the original target weeds no longer a problem. In the first 6 years that the plan was in operation (2010 to 2016) an average of 924 hours per year was spent on weed control on the Reserve. This is less than the amount projected in the plan, partly because of the difficulty of making accurate predictions, partly because of improvements in our control approach and partly because within that 6 years there was already evidence of a reduction in prevalence of a number of weed types. Changing weather from year to year also influences the effort required.
Our efforts also expanded 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. When the effort spent in those areas is included the average over the first 6 years was 1169 hours per year.