Press release
Brunswick Chemical-free site poisoned

Byron Shire Chemical Free Landcare volunteers came across an unpleasant and disappointing surprise, on Saturday May 19th. They arrived for their working bee at the chemical-free site in Brunswick Heads Crown Land. Ready to chop Bitou Bush with their loppers in their hands, they noticed that the small remaining patch of Bitou Bush, in the far South East of the area, where it meets Tyagarah Nature Reserve, had been poisoned with synthetic herbicides. Any information from the public that has witness the spray will be really appreciate.

BSCFL volunteers have been working on the Brunswick chemical free site, with permission of Crown Lands for the past 8 years, clearing and following up an area of 5 hectares of very dense Bitou bush, a weed of national significance. We have done this voluntarily with no cost to the taxpayer. We have also spent much time removing large amounts of rubbish, reporting camping etc.

After 8 years we were so close to finishing – we would have done so by the end of June (a requirement from Rous County Council for the Bitou Containment Zone). We also noticed that the pesticide application had not been highly successful. With our method the Bitou is gone! It was so disappointing!

Under the NSW Pesticide act, anyone spraying on public land is required to give notification of use. “We received no notification. You would think that through Duty of Care, the volunteers would be informed because we come into direct contact with the pesticide on the Bitou Bush as we work. Although we are there fortnightly, we also come at other times and we could be there the next day for example, when the dying-back signs are not yet present.” explained Ellen White. “Luckily some of us knew the first signs of spray die-back and stopped working”.

Who sprayed the site is unknown at this stage. BSCF coordinator, Nadia de Souza Pietramale was informed by Andrew Petroeschevsky, Dept. Industry, Crown Lands and Water Division, “I haven’t requested any contractor to spray lot 428 as far I can remember, and I will investigate the matter. However it could be a communication error as I have two contractors spraying in the area at moment: Rhonda James (Bushland Restoration Services) in Toraquina Park and the South Rock Wall, and Madhima Gulgan in the Belongil area.” He commended our work on the site.

We also contacted Rous County Council, the state government authority that enforces the Biosecurity Act In our region. They have been notifying private and public land owners North of the Byron Cape that all Bitou Bush needs to be exterminated by the 30 of June. When BSCF coordinator spoke with the organisation’s Education Officer Kim Curtis regarding the spraying on our site and our concerns with the exposure of volunteers to the herbicide she said, “It wouldn’t hurt them” illustrating a cavalier attitude to pesticide use. We asked Kim what research she had to back up her comments. No answer.

Until we know exactly which chemical was used we will stay away from Brunswick and work on the New Brighton site. However BSCFL have requested from Crown Lands that no further pesticide is used on this site, as we don’t need any assistance to meet the 30th June target.

Nadia stressed the fact that our work is free of charge to the taxpayer – there is no need to pay contractors from the public purse to spray on this site. However we do need assistance with illegal camping, a serious risk to the threaten species Pink Nodding Orchid, as our site holds the largest concentration in the Shire. “Before this species was protect by the Bitou Bush but the whole site is open now, become very attractive to illegal camping”, said Nadia.

We will be at the New Brighton site on 26th of May and 2nd and 3rd of June. Please meet us at the first curve, on the left, at North Head Road. Park your car and walk into the beach. The site is towards the south and you will see us on the dunes. This is a short strip of land, between the ocean and the back of the houses. Wear boots, long sleeve shirt, long pants, a hat, gloves, and bring water. Tools and first aid kit will be provided.


After the deep disappointment felt by ALL herbicide free Active Volunteers.


Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Stopping the poison pushers.

Making peace with the weeds

Volunteers working, pulling Bitou bush on Brunswick Heads chemical free site.

Byron Shire Chemical Free Landcare volunteers have been working for the past eight years on a five-hectare dune-regeneration project just south of Brunswick Surf Club in New South Wales.
“I had been researching chemical-free bush regeneration strategies since 2004, regenerating a one-hectare rainforest planting at Gondwana Community without using synthetic herbicides,” said the project coordinator, Nadia de Souza Pietramale.
“My learning sped up when I met Ellen White, who had years of experience developing a different view of the whole ecological framework of weed control as well as a simple and efficient crowning method for Bitou bush control on 50ha at the Dirawong Reserve at Evans Head.”
‘Since 2010, we have grown as a group,’ continued Nadia.
“It’s very rewarding to see the fruits of this work that has required hundreds of hours of volunteer work’, added Nadia. ‘The core of our work is to care for the soil, water and air while restoring degraded ecosystems.”
Concerning for the chemical free landcare group is that the main tool for weed control of ‘conventional’ bush regeneration is the use of a dangerous herbicide called glyphosate. In some cases it is used in public spaces where children play, in conservation areas, along creek lines, drains and wetlands.
‘This is despite an announcement by the World Health Organization, in March 2015, that it is a probable carcinogen and is strongly implicated in the global increase in non-Hodgkins lymphoma,’ says Nadia.
‘Lawsuits have now been filed against Monsanto in the US District Court in San Francisco and in US state courts by thousands of people alleging that exposure to Roundup herbicide caused them or their loved ones to develop non-Hodgkins lymphoma, and that Monsanto covered up the risks.’
Byron Shire chemical-free Landcare volunteers see a need to move on from the war on weeds.
We’re not alone in our journey of making peace with the weeds. Many books, including The New Wild by Fred Pearce, rediscover what conservation should be about.
“After years of seeing the damage caused by herbicides and other pesticides, there is now enough information to move on from “conventional” land management that depends on synthetic herbicides. Moving away from the “war on weeds”, we at BSCFL are excited to be involved in a movement that encourages life rather than death,” finished Nadia.

Originally published in Echo

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Rodney and a new forest walk.

Super morning when Rodney, bird and wild life photographer, visited for the walk through new forests.

His photos will appear here over the next weeks.


Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

From the Environmental Defenders Office.

Please consider supporting the EDO.

If you didn’t see Friday’s news, you may have missed this report, which found that climate change threatened Australians’ health and the viability of communities, businesses and the economy; by heightening the severity of natural hazards, increasing the spread of infectious diseases and increasing water insecurity, and threatening agriculture.

I know it can seem overwhelming at times, but my team is working hard on legal solutions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and support gutsy communities on the front line.

Today I have sent you a letter about the work we’re doing over the next few months to meet the challenge of climate change and support local communities using both litigation and law reform. Please look out for it in your mailbox this week.

Thank you for helping us defend our environment and advance the law. We can’t do it without you.

David Morris
CEO – Solicitor

“The committee notes the consensus from the evidence that climate change is exacerbating threats and risks to Australia’s national security. These include sea level rise, bushfires, droughts, extreme rainfall events, and higher-intensity cyclones…Climate change is also adversely affecting other aspects of Australia’s national security, including the economy, infrastructure, and community health and well-being.”

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Brush hook in hand.

I wasn’t smiling 5 minutes after this photo was taken. I brushed a stinging tree……… my bare arms and my ear. I waiting a couple of minutes and continued the lantana slash, pull and mulch. Sweat soon eased the prickly burning and when I returned home I used a hair removal wax patch. That pain was 5 times more intense than the stinging trees fine silicone  hairs. But the stinging has stopped.

The leaf.

The large leaves of the stinging tree.


Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Clive Palmer.


Jump seed hand removal.  Huonbrook Herbicide Free Active Volunteers.



Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

The valley will miss this family.

Sad but joy filled tea dinner for Pav, Lou, Cuba and Mana who are returning to New Zealand/Aotearoa to live. Lake Wanaka so our cooler than usual night on Sunday meant they had a taste of winter to come in the South Island.

All will be sadly missed.  Our loss, Lake Wanaka’s gain.



Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized