The challenges and success of exotic tree suppression at Emerald Lake Park, Victoria

Emerald Lake Park is a 57 ha multi-use park in the Dandenong Ranges, Victoria. The park retains a significant proportion of remnant vegetation and mature secondary regrowth forest. Historical disturbance from horticultural activities and tourism, together with pressures associated with close proximity to urban development, have contributed to extensive invasion by exotic trees and shrubs e.g. Acer pseudoplatanus L. (sycamore maple), Ilex aquifolium L. (holly), Pittosporum undulatum Vent. (sweet pittosporum) and Prunus laurocerasus L. (cherry laurel). These species, and others, form dense canopies that reduce light penetration, develop thick seasonal layers of litter, reduce water availability and compete intensely with native plants. A 4-year weed suppression program was implemented to restore and protect biodiversity values and improve the function of the park as a wildlife corridor. Weed mapping identified a range of high risk weeds and their distribution within the park. An integrated approach initially addressed the eradication or containment of new and emerging weed species at the local or regional scale. Vegetation management units were formed and prioritised based on their level of invasion, feasibility of control of exotic species, and their biodiversity values. Control techniques varied according to the targeted species, but predominantly utilised cut-and-paint methods with the removal of biomass from the site. A monitoring program evaluated the effectiveness of control activities and the biodiversity response to the removal of exotic trees and shrubs. Social acceptance of the weed control program was critical to its success as the park is a popular tourist destination and has a high level of ownership by the local community. A constrained approach to weed removal in the short-term reduced the potential conflicts of interest and the level of disturbance that could exacerbate further weed invasions.

Cite as: 

Sawyer, M. and Adair, R. (2016). The challenges and success of exotic tree suppression at Emerald Lake Park, Victoria. Plant Protection Quarterly 31(2), 59-62.

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First published online: July 8, 2016