Weed Dating with Monica
Introducing our Landscape Officer, Monica. She has been with the City of Playford Environment and Waste team for over 14 years. The first thing Monica wants to make clear is her job role – as a Landscape Officer people may think she’s involved with gardening, but this isn’t the case. “My role is to provide landholders advice and support around sustainable land management. This includes plans and recommendations for property management which might include things like fencing off water courses from livestock, undertaking revegetation, biodiversity surveys, suggested contractors to help with weed control, weed identification, things like that.”
Monica most enjoys bush restoration projects. A favourite involved a couple in Gould Creek, who had an unusually substantial area of ‘remnant’. Remnant is a patch of native trees, shrubs and/or grasses that was here before Europeans, still standing after all the clearances for farming and agriculture over the past 200 years.
Most of the remnant is limited to places you couldn’t put a plough in, like steep or rocky areas. “The landholders in Gould Creek were excited to hear about it and keen to preserve it… it’s a pleasure to be working with people like that.”
So why should people be interested in remnant? “For various reasons,” Monica says, and reels them off; “enhancing property values, providing social benefits such as tourism, education and recreation, they support other native flora and fauna, help protect against salinity and soil erosion, provide for natural pest control… they’re basically a gift, of what’s left of our Australian ecosystems.”
And how do you convince people to get on board to protect their remnant? “When out of site with a landholder and I spot remnant, I tell them how lucky they are to have this bit of bushland, because it’s like their own bit of national park in their backyard,” Monica says. “Most landholders are keen to hear the assessment and contribute to a plan to preserve it.”
Most landholders are keen to hear the assessment and contribute to a plan to preserve their remnant.
Monica not only works with locals in Playford, but as a council-based officer for Green Adelaide works across the Green Adelaide Region. “In Playford, I mostly dealt with larger rural properties, but now with Green Adelaide, I also help out across all the other urban areas as well, so I deal with many of the private property enquiries around pest weed and animal control that come through council or Green Adelaide.”
If you’re thinking that sounds like a big job, you’re right. Monica says “I spend far too much time in the office now out of necessity for paperwork, and planning, but I’d much rather be out there on site watching the results and growth of the hard work of landholders and property owners.”
Although she does mention that she gets to go out on some pretty interesting outings. “Just recently I was working with the PIRSA biosecurity team, over on KI. We were helping them with their Cape tulip bio blitz”, she pauses to explain “…that’s weed control in the fire scarred area. If you’re not careful, one weed species can take advantage of the ‘clean slate’ provided by a fire, and take over, often to the detriment of the area. So that requires intervention.”
Monica also works with community groups such as the Northern Foothills Land Care Group and contributes to community information nights. Topics are broad, community centered and include ‘everything land management’, such as weed control, biodiversity, awareness of local native animals and the habitats they need to survive, birds and bats of the night – and tips on how to protect native flora and fauna. “Due to demand, we recently started an info series on seasonal weed control," she says, laughing. "We call it ‘weed dating’, instead of ‘speed dating!’ - it was really well received.” “Raptors, or birds of prey is the next one planned for November.”