Reclaiming the Ghinni Ghinni floodplain

Shady character: Declared a noxious weed in 2014, the Camphor Laurel is being targeted in a pilot management program in the Ghinni Ghinni area.
Shady character: Declared a noxious weed in 2014, the Camphor Laurel is being targeted in a pilot management program in the Ghinni Ghinni area.

Once actively planted as a fast-growing shade tree, the Camphor Laurel is being targeted in a pilot management program in the Ghinni Ghinni area, that aims to restore the area’s native tree species.

A shady character indeed, the Camphor Laurel was introduced into Australia from Asia in the 1820s and was originally considered an ornamental shade tree popular in schoolyards, parks and gardens.

With mature trees dispersing over 100,000 seeds each year, they have been quick to invade natural landscapes and agricultural pastures along the east coast of Australia, pushing out blue gums and other native species.  

In 2014, the Camphor Laurel was declared a noxious weed in the MidCoast region.

Now, an initiative to manage the proliferation of Camphor Laurels in the Ghinni Ghinni area, north of Taree, is being undertaken by the team at MidCoast Council in conjunction with private property owners who have agreed to participate in a tree replacement program.

“This is a long-term initiative that we started in 2015, and will continue with for some years before the area is repopulated with native species such as Native Tamarind and Tuckeroo”, explained Wendy Bushell, MidCoast Council’s Catchment Weed Biosecurity.

“We’re piloting the program in the low-lying floodplain area around Ghinni Ghinni, where nutrient rich soil has provided ideal conditions for weeds and invasive species like the Camphor Laurel to proliferate”.

Equally, the pastoral area provides the perfect environment to re-establish native trees.

Funded by Hunter Local Land Services through their Regional Strategic Weeds Program, the initiative involves providing land owners with replacement trees, and advice on how to remove or manage the aggressive Camphor Laurel species on their property, either by poisoning, removal, or by planting parasitic figs in well-established, long standing Camphor Laurels.

“Our aim over the long term is to reduce the camphor population, and in doing so increase the opportunity for areas in and around our waterways to re-establish native flora and fauna habitats”, Wendy added.

The evergreen tree grows to around 20 metres, and matures and spreads at a much faster rate than native figs and other species. Its seeds are dispersed by fruit eating birds and through waterways. An extensive root system means removal is easiest before the plant matures. Leaves smell of camphor when crushed, and all parts of the plant are mildly toxic and can cause nausea, respiratory distress and allergies.

To find out more about the Camphor Laurel visit http://weeds.dpi.nsw.gov.au/Weeds/Details/28