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Gorse control

Gorse is a Weed of National Significance. It is regarded as one of the worst weeds in Australia because of its invasiveness, potential for spread, and economic and environmental impacts.

Gorse infestation can reduce grazing, restricts stock and human access, harbours feral animals and reduces land value. In forestry, gorse interferes with access, seedling establishment and harvesting. In native vegetation, gorse forms dense monocultural stands. It poses a fire hazard and detracts from landscape values across all land types. Gorse threatens the integrity of riparian zones, impacts on biodiversity in native vegetation and on threatened species.

The seeds have a hard, water-resistant coating which allows them to remain dormant in the soil for up to 30 years. Seeds are usually released in hot or dry conditions and can be stimulated into germination following burning or mechanical disturbance. Individual gorse bushes can live to a maximum age of about 30 years. A mature infestation can produce up to 6 million seeds per ha each year. Most seeds fall around the plant but the pods can split open and shoot seeds for a distance of up to 5 m. Seed is usually carried into new areas in soil and mud attached to machinery or boots. All machinery, tools and footwear should be thoroughly cleaned after use in any gorse-infested area, especially in bushland and forests. Seeds can also be spread by water, birds and ants.

Prevention is the most cost-effective means of weed control.
• The key to controlling the spread of gorse is to prevent flowering or at least reduce its ability to set seed.
• Where gorse crosses property boundaries, any eradication efforts should be coordinated with neighbouring landholders to completely destroy all plants in the area and prevent reinfestation.
• Tackle the small, outlying infestations first. This allows a bigger area of land to be cleaned up first and there will be less follow-up maintenance in these areas as the seedbank will be smaller.

All control programs require several years of follow-up treatments and many years of vigilance. Further information on Gorse control can be found in the Weeds of National Significance - Gorse Control Manual (http://www.weeds.org.au/WoNS/gorse/) and Federal Governments weed management guide (https://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/invasive/weeds/publications/guidelines/wons/pubs/u-europaeus.pdf)

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