The first working bee for 2012 took place on Sat 11-Feb and was dedicated to Sea Spurge removal. This is part of the work to be carried out under one of the two grants received for this year.
Twenty-two members gathered at the First Surf Beach Car Park in pleasant overcast weather. Our aim – to purge the spurge. This project will extend over five years and is designed to eradicate the weed Sea Spurge from the coast between Harmer’s Haven and Cape Paterson.
Sea Spurge is a native of South Africa. Over the last decade. it has gradually been spreading along many areas of Victorian Coast. Interestingly, it is very intolerant of shade and almost exclusively lives along the narrow strip between the high tide mark and the coastal scrub. This makes it easy to see and relatively easy to remove. Occasionally, it will spread a bit further inland along access tracks.
Successful removal has been achieved from long areas of coast, using a combination of hand-pulling with selective spraying. The spraying does not kill the coastal grass that is the most common associate of the spurge. During the first year or two, large areas need to be cleared and considerable reseeding occurs. Over a period of a few years, this reseeding from soil reserves of seeds gets less and less. Ongoing eradication can be maintained by vigilance of walkers along the cleared stretches of beach, with occasional formal checks.
On our first working bee in this project, we initially started work along the access track to second surf beach, but soon realised that the spurge beside the track would need some digging. We therefore focussed on the coastal infestation at the end of that track, and the adjacent strip towards Cape Paterson itself. All particpants wore gloves as the sap is toxic and can give an unpleasant dermatitis. Pulled weeds without seed heads can be left on site. Pulled weeds with seed heads can also be left on site in the first couple of years when the seed load in the area is known to be high. As the project continues and the soil seed load rapidly diminishes in later years, any seeding spurge that is pulled will be removed from the beach.
The next step in the project is a selective spraying of the thicker areas along from where we have started. Thanks to everyone who attended on Saturday 11th Feb. It was great to see many new faces and get to know people over the lunch afterwards.