15100: Rubber Vine Eradication along the Fitzroy River through Aerial Control

    Rubber Vine is a WONS and a declared pest in Western Australia under the Biosecurity and Agricultural Management Act with a categorisation of Eradication C2. A benefit-cost analysis undertaken in 2014 for DAFWA, estimated that the eradication of the current infestations in the East and West Kimberley will prevent damages of $10.9 million per year over a 30-year period based on agricultural (pastoral) impacts alone. To this must be added large ecological benefits.
    Through efforts over a number of years, the current infestation of Rubber Vine in West Kimberley has been reduced by an estimate of more than 99%. Historically distributed over an area of around 26,500 ha, there are currently only 140 known sites of Rubber Vine infestation (see Attachment 2). These sites are referred to as 'Return Sites' which are localized areas of seeding centered on a single breeding vine. The Rubber Vine plants located in these sites were treated when found but require return visits. With no new seedlings or vines found in follow up inspections these sites are then considered eradicated and removed from the list. It has been established that this takes between 1 and 3 years to achieve. 

    Paramount to the control and monitoring for Rubber Vine is the Aerial Survey to locate flowering vines on top of the natural vegetation canopy. This survey takes approximately 80 hours with 2 observers. This survey will need to be maintained for at least 5 years to meet an eradication target. 

    As with the rigor brought to the ground missions, these aerial surveys follow a strict grid search pattern to not only ensure 100% of the terrain is covered, but also to allow overlap to view the canopy from a variety of angles. 

    All identified vines are targeted for on ground treatment. While the number of identified vines is expected to reduce over time, it is important that the entire original infestation area is covered annually to ensure eradication. The aerial survey must occur annually as even missing 1 year will allow flowering Vines to disperse seed and therefore extend the life of the eradication program. A comprehensive operational plan for the next 5 years of the eradication program, has been developed by the Project Manager with the assistance of the WKRVSC and this will be adopted and reviewed to ensure it is up to date. 

    As an aside to this project, High resolution imagery is captured and uploaded to the online volunteer search portal Friends of the Fitzroy (The Aquila Project). This provides an additional level of surety when conducting the aerial search through volunteers scanning over captured imagery to detect the flowing plants that observers in the aerial program may have missed. 

    Scope of work undertaken within this project: 
    o 80 hour aerial search program over 26,500ha with 2 observers. 
    o Treatment of detected vine during observation. 
    o Capture of high resolution imagery during search to be uploaded to Aquila Project


    Investment: $ 5 000
    In-kind contribution: $ 75 000
    Delivery organisation: West Kimberley Rubber Vine Steering Committee
    Project duration: July 2016 - May 2017
    Location: Derby-West Kimberley, Shire of
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