Zac Ramsey, Arthur Hunt, Tony Baker, Ian Miller, Bethlea Bell, Tony Henry, Justin Bevan and Lydia Georgeson after a weekend of weeding.
Zac Ramsey, Arthur Hunt, Tony Baker, Ian Miller, Bethlea Bell, Tony Henry, Justin Bevan and Lydia Georgeson after a weekend of weeding. Fitzroy Basin Association

Keeping on top of weeds one block at a time

KEEPING on top of weeds, even on a small block is hard work but nothing compared to caring for an entire island!

In a huge effort to keep native species on North Keppel Island's thriving North Keppel Island, Environmental Education Centre (NKIEEC) secured a Fitzroy Basin Association (FBA) community grant.

While our precious Great Barrier Reef World Heritage islands are among the most pest-free islands in the world, they are not immune to weeds.

Tony Baker, Lydia Georgeson, Zac Ramsey, Justin Bevan, Tony Henry, Ian Miller, Bethlea Bell, Arthur Hunt and Paul Bettenidge after a weekend of weeding.
Tony Baker, Lydia Georgeson, Zac Ramsey, Justin Bevan, Tony Henry, Ian Miller, Bethlea Bell, Arthur Hunt and Paul Bettenidge after a weekend of weeding. Fitzroy Basin Association

Seeds swept over by the wind, stuck to the sole of a shoe or brought over by wildlife thrive in the fertile island soil.

Many of these weeds out-complete native species, threatening the island's biodiversity.

Recently, invasive weeds became more of a problem for North Keppel Island.

Last summer's rain activated many seeds lying dormant along the beachfront dunal area and around the island causing a surge of weeds to emerge.

The second group of weeders hard at work.
The second group of weeders hard at work. Fitzroy Basin Association

Not wanting the weed species to take over, NKIEEC were quick to act.

Identifying the six most invasive species of weed and priority areas around the island, NKIEEC applied for an FBA Community Grant.

The education centre's robust project plan quickly secured financial assistance needed to take on the mammoth task of removing over a tonne of weeds, by hand!

Not wanting to harm native plants or let any chemicals enter the ocean, NKIEEC committed to removing all weeds by hand and raising a small army of volunteers to help.

500kg of weeds removed in one of the two weekends.
500kg of weeds removed in one of the two weekends. Fitzroy Basin Association

However, convincing a crowd of local community members to give up an entire weekend to weed isn't an easy sell.

The drawcard of being on a pristine tropical island with unrivalled views worked to NKIEEC's advantage and soon there was a waiting list of hopeful volunteers.

Over two weekends, 40 volunteers worked under the guidance of NKIEEC's passionate unit support officer, Ian Miller.

Together the team removed a phenomenal 1,200kg of weeds from the priority dunal areas.

For this fragile environment, this is a fantastic outcome that will allow native plants to thrive and stabilise the dunes; preventing erosion.

FBA has recently opened a new round of community grants to support more fantastic projects like this.

Up to $10,000 is available for community groups, traditional owners, landholders, individuals and businesses with project ideas that improve ecological values, land management or sustainability while increasing community awareness, participation, connectedness and stewardship.

To learn more about previous FBA Grant and Bursary recipients or to apply for funding visit www.fba.org.au.