Goatbusters

Thinking Highways
By Thinking Highways March 6, 2017 11:21

Goatbusters


Melbourne’s EastLink tollway includes 480 hectares of landscaping, 4 million native trees, shrubs and plants, as well as more than 60 wetlands that treat rainwater running off the road surface.

Management of this amount of landscaping is a full time task for our dedicated landscaping team. The landscaping team identified a parcel of EastLink land approximately one acre in size that needed to be cleared of woody weeds and non-native varietals, including blackberry and flax-leaved broom (both officially declared as “noxious weeds”). This area also needed to be cleared to reduce fire risk.

However on close inspection the site posed significant safety risks to the team members and their equipment, due to the steep and rocky terrain. The landscaping team solved this problem by introducing a herd of goats to the area. Goats have a voracious appetite for non-native weeds, and are particularly sure-footed and ‘at home’ on tough terrain. To ensure goat and public safety, the goats have had no access to the freeway area or EastLink Trail.

Since December, the goats have been busy clearing the vegetation in a safe and environmentally friendly manner.
The benefits of this solution include:
• Goats kill weeds like blackberries by pruning the foliage and leaf buds, which exhausts the root system and kills the plant. Unlike glyphosate (a herbicide), this means soil fungi, insects and worms are unharmed.
• All unwanted vegetation is dealt with on-site by the goats, so no vegetation needs to be removed and handled off-site. Potential fire load is being eaten or trampled, and will not require further attention this summer.
• Once cleared, the area will provide a better habitat for ground fauna and will attract a greater variety of bird such as Finches, Wrens, Kookaburras, Butcher Birds and Kites.

The goats have been provided and are cared for by Colin Arnold of Graze Away. Colin has extensive experience, and has been working with goats for 20 years to restore native habitats.

Thinking Highways
By Thinking Highways March 6, 2017 11:21