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Blackberry the weed (Rubus fruticosus aggregate) was first introduced to Australia by European settlers in the mid-1800s as a fruit. It was recognised as a weed by mid-1880s. Blackberry is a serious issue across Australia.
It is estimated that blackberry infests approximately 8.8 million hectares of land at an estimated cost of $103 million in annual control and production losses.
Blackberry can severely decrease the productivity capacity of land, alter water flow, lead to erosion problems and provide harbour for pest animals. The available evidence also points to blackberry inflicting a high emotional toll and causing significant distress to farmers with negative flow-on effects for rural communities.
An integrated approach is required for effective management of blackberry using a combination of control measures. These includes slashing, grazing, fire, grubbing, herbicides and biological control. The goal is to prevent new infestations, reduce current infestations and rehabilitate infested land. Blackberry management strategies are most successful when people work together.
In Victoria, the Victorian Blackberry Taskforce (VBT) was established to work with Victorian communities and government agencies to provide a collaborative effort to control blackberry.
The taskforce encourages a cross-tenure landscape level approach led by the community that focuses on the ‘common problem’. Through this initiative, blackberry control groups are supported to work together to apply a nil-tenure model. On-ground work by the blackberry control group has included planning and coordination as well as other weed control activities.
Listening is an important part of the approach—to local problems, local experience and landholder ideas, both their potential and their constraints. Blackberry action groups act locally and feed their experience into the VBT, who then feed these experiences back to government agencies.
This initiative has built the capacity of the communities and brought them together to develop a shared ownership of the blackberry problem. It provides a great example of the approach highlighted in the EPDNS framework, delivering positive economic, environmental and social outcomes.
This case study was published in the Australian Weeds Strategy 2017 to 2027. For bibliographic purposes please cite as: Invasive Plants and Animals Committee 2016, Australian Weeds Strategy 2017 to 2027, Australian Government Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, Canberra.