The NT Government recruiting 45 people to form a Gamba Army.
Despite the uncontrolled spread of Gamba grass in the Katherine region, the government has revealed the "army's" priorities will be Litchfield National Park, Charles Darwin National Park and the Greater Darwin region.
The NT Weeds Branch and Territory Natural Resource Management will work together to deliver the Gamba Army as part of a $500,000 investment to combat this highly flammable and invasive weed of national significance.
Charles Darwin University will be the Gamba Army's intelligence unit and has already started gathering information about areas that the Gamba Army will attack through a $100,000 Mapping, Planning and Tracing Project.
Key components of the Gamba Army:
- Generating jobs for displaced and underemployed Territorians including through the Australian Government CDEP program;
- Facilitating support for associated small businesses involved in weed management;
- Protecting key assets and industries, such as parks and park infrastructure, tourism hotspots, and community amenity areas;
- Reducing the impact of fires on lives, property and the environment and associated costs;
- Minimising spread into areas clear of gamba grass; and
- Contributing to the objectives of the new Weed Management Plan for Gamba Grass 2020-2030.
The NT Government said it already invests up to $6 million a year on weeds management, including Gamba grass.
In 2019, the NT Government estimated Gamba affects up to 15,000 square kilometres of the NT, but has the potential to affect 380,000 square kilometres.
Originally from Africa, Gamba was introduced to the Territory as highly palatable cattle fodder crop in the 1930's and was planted throughout pastoral and agricultural areas.
Volunteer firefighters across the Top End have also sounded the alarm saying lives will be lost if the weed is not beaten back.
The NT Government currently provides free chemicals in some areas for landowners to spray Gamba.
"We have established a dedicated Crown land Weeds Officer, boosted funding to Bushfires NT to support volunteer brigades, and constructed a new state of the art facility for Bushfires NT to improve our response to fires," a government spokeswoman said.
Environment Minister Eva Lawler said: "We know that more action is needed to mitigate and eradicate Gamba grass, and that is what we are doing through a coordinated and targeted approach.
More reading: Call for urgent investment in Gamba control.
"Our Gamba Army will provide targeted support in areas of significance and provide up to 45 local jobs for Territorians to assist with stimulating the economy.
"Fires fuelled by Gamba grass threaten lives, property and the environment across the Top End.
Territory Natural Resources Management chief executive Karen May said: "Territory Natural Resource Management is an independent not for profit organisation that partners with landholders, community groups, industry and government on projects that help to protect and improve the Territory's natural environment.
"The Gamba Army partnership will coordinate and boost efforts to tackle the spread of Gamba grass, it will extend and complement the work undertaken annually by contractors, rangers, community groups, government and private landholders".
"This provide a transparent multi-pronged approach across a range of sites which will be prioritised for values such as biodiversity, amenity use and asset protection."
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