Assets with Eyes

The last stand – saying goodbye to Lantana

26 May 2020

Earlier this month the last stand of Lantana was removed from the Brickpit precinct. This marks one of the final chapters of a 14-year long project involving, the staged removal of over 2 hectares of this invasive weed, and its subsequent replacement with diverse native vegetation to provide more diverse functional habitat for woodland birds.

Native to Central and South America, Lantana was introduced to Australia as an ornamental garden plant in 1841. This woody shrub creates a monoculture, dominating the understory and preventing other plants from germinating and growing beneath it. It can also behave like a climbing vine entering and eventually dominating the tree layer. Ironically, the many seeds produced by this weed are spread by birds, the very animal group these works aim to support.  Woodland birds are a group of small songbirds that are disappearing from urban Sydney due to habitat loss, disturbance and aggressive behaviour of some other, larger bird species.

Due to the invasive nature of Lantana, land owners have a biosecurity duty to manage and remove the plant. At Sydney Olympic Park, the largest stands of this weedy shrub existed in the former Brickpit, a hotspot for biodiversity. Starting in 2006, the Authority implemented a long-term program of staged Lantana removal balanced with habitat replacement. The Authority recognises that Lantana provides habitat for some woodland birds, so replacing the weed with native vegetation suitable for these species is a top priority. Each new planting stage is required to form functional habitat before further weed removal occurs to ensure no net loss of overall habitat.

Since the beginning of this program, more than 50,000 native plants have been planted, offering a range of food resources; seed, nectar or insect attracting species. Unfortunately, Lantana growing outside the Park provides seed for birds and if constant vigilance is not maintained it could be hello Lantana (again!).

It pays to go slowly with the program as birds diversity was successfully maintained throughout the process, with the most recent surveys recording good abundance of species including scrubwrens, silvereyes, honeyeaters and fantails. Goodbye Lantana!

Lantana; a woody weed of National Significance forming dense thickets along Brickpit service track (2015).
Replacement habitat maturing; achieving structurally complex habitat with density required for woodland birds to seek refuge (2018).
The program has been successful with the last two surveys recording good abundance and an increasing diversity of woodland bird species © Geoff Hutchison

Lantana; a woody weed of National Significance forming dense thickets along Brickpit service track (2015).

Replacement habitat maturing; achieving structurally complex habitat with density required for woodland birds to seek refuge (2018).

The program has been successful with surveys recording good abundance and an increasing diversity of woodland bird species © Geoff Hutchison
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