Intense attack on 'plant from hell'
A NOXIOUS green menace is taking hold in the Clarence Valley with more than 100 cases of tropical soda weed detected in the past eight months.
More cases of the South American native, known as the 'plant from hell' by US authorities, have been detected and treated across the valley more than anywhere else between the Nambucca Valley and the Queensland border.
Clarence Valley council's acting environment and open spaces manager Rod Wright said an active detection and spraying program undertaken by council aimed to eradicate the pest.
He said the weed was first discovered in Australia last year at a Kempsey property, with cattle movements contributing to its spread.
"We have used cattle-tagging information to backtrack and discover the sites that the weed may have gone from before the saleyards out to those sites," he said.
He said the majority of properties with cases of the weed were cattle grazing areas in the Upper Clarence catchment.
North Coast Weeds Advisory Committee chairman Gordon Braithwaite said more than $11 million will be invested over five years into weed control over the 23,500 square kilometre area.
He said more than $6 million will come from local councils, with the NSW government chipping in $5 million.
"The region is one of the fastest growing areas in the state and it also boasts some of the highest biodiversity values in the state," he said.
"It is characterised by fertile, volcanic and alluvial soils and has the highest rainfall of any area in NSW.
"Fertile soils and high rainfall combined with a subtropical climate provide an extended growing period for weeds, making this region very vulnerable to the invasion of new plant species and further proliferation of existing weeds."
More than 13,600 private properties have been inspected for noxious weeds between the Nambucca Valley and the Queensland border over the past eight months.