Moreton Bay Regional Council does not have a Biosecurity Plan that includes an achievable management objective to manage the broad-leaved pepper tree (BPT).
This introduced weed is listed by Biosecurity Qld as an invasive plant causing negative impact on Queensland’s economy, environment, social amenity and health.
Advice from the office of the State Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries confirms that MBRC has no plan to manage this weed even though the Biosecurity Act 2014 gives Local Government power to do so.
It is an offence to distribute, supply or release the broad-leaved pepper tree. Moreton Bay Regional Council is the ONLY Local Government in Queensland that describes the BPT as “Low Risk”.
Large stands of the BPT have been located along Beachmere Road and the Beachmere area, and north to the Toorbul foreshore including Bribie Island and the Pumicestone Passage.
The current Biosecurity Plan 2016-2020 is due for review and updating. Besides requesting that Council prepare and publicise its Biosecurity Plan, locals are calling for proactive and appropriate steps to be taken to raise the Risk Classification of this plant to Extreme.
This upgrade will give priority to early detection and ensure provision of consistent and co-ordinated management processes by adjacent Local Government Authorities and Main Roads to maximise effective outcomes.
Allocation of funds to support eradication and management should be given priority considering the enormous amounts of money other countries are spending after years of inaction.
BPT seeds are dispersed by birds and animals and MBRC and the State Government need to act quickly and effectively to combat the spread of this threat to biodiversity and habitat for animals, birds and marine life in our unique area.
Committee member of Bribie Island Environmental Protection Association (BIEPA), Mark Stanton-Cook, was critical of what he believes will quickly become a dire situation.
“I don’t think that MBRC are seriously addressing this problem. In north east NSW adjoining council areas Tweed, Byron, Lismore, Ballina, Kyogle and Richmond have mapped where the invasion is extremely high and all landholders, including Council must, by law, eradicate and keep the land free of this plant in these zones. MBRC has listed this plant as “Low Risk”.
BEIPA are following up with CSIRO and a possible biological control agent, but it is very clear that immediate action needs to be taken or this coastal area, including recreational and commercial fishing will be at risk. Foreshores, mangrove and fish nurseries are particularly susceptible to this invasive species,” Mark said.