The Bell Miner Associated Dieback Working Group has been trialling various methods for controlling lantana in affected eucalypt forests.
The use of a splatter gun is one option for the control of lantana. The operator uses a LPG powered gas gun attached to a 5L backpack of herbicide to overspray(Splatter) large hedges of lantana. This method can be used on steep, rugged and isolated areas and on ecologically sensitive areas.
The BMAD Working Group has a splatter gun that is available on loan to land holders through Northern Landcare Support Services.
The Bell Miner Associated Dieback Working Group is a group of local land-holders, community and conservation groups, representatives of industry and government agencies including Forests NSW and the Office of Environment and Heritage are trying to better understand BMAD.
Trials of forest management methods to combat BMAD were undertaken on private and public land in northern NSW to see whether modification of bell miner understorey habitat would cause them to disperse and whether BMAD affected trees recover. Methods being tested include herbicide treatment using the splatter gun technique and fire to reduce lantana cover. Results show that removing dense Lantana understorey causes bell miners to disperse. However, if they only disperse to adjoining vulnerable habitat they may continue to impact on the health of preferred tree species in the treated area.
Management trials on public land in northern NSW are now exploring habitat manipulation by means of lantana control and ecological burning at a landscape scale. These treatments attempt to reinvigorate forest health by controlling lantana and the development of dense understorey between 2 and 6 metres tall. In southeast Queensland the emphasis is on monitoring forest condition and applying appropriate fire regimes to maintain the structure of existing grassy forests, thus ensuring that they do not become vulnerable to BMAD.
Remote sensing technology (satellite imagery and Light Detecting and Ranging (LIDAR)) was used to successfully to develop spatial models and maps of BMAD susceptibility across northern NSW in 2008. Mapping of forest condition and BMAD across 90,000ha of Gondwana Rainforest of Australia World Heritage Areas using aerial photos, helicopter transects and ground truthing has provided up to date information on the occurrence and threat of BMAD. This information allows land managers and decision makers to assess areas vulnerable to BMAD and identify priority areas for management.
A number of research projects are addressing different components of BMAD. These projects are determining the relationship of psyllids, parasitoids, leaf nutrients and tree health in BMAD forests, looking at the effectiveness of lantana control on mitigating BMAD, developing improved bell miner monitoring, and understanding nutrient cycling pathways in BMAD affected forests.
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