Weedkiller ‘as last resort’

STIRLING council will continue to use the controversial weedkiller glyphosate, but only as a last resort.

This month the city approved its weed management policy after five weeks of community consultation in September.

The Council received 42 responses including concerns about its use of glyphosate and why it hadn’t completely phased out using herbicides and pesticides.

Stirling’s parks manager Ian Hunter said they “only use pesticides and herbicides when all other feasible and reasonable options are explored, such as hand pulling, mechanical cutting, mulching, steaming and the use of organic herbicides and trial environmentally sustainable herbicide and pesticide alternatives.”

Other councils like Cockburn have researched using organic alternatives to glyphosate, but found that were not as effective and generally more expensive, with steam at least twice as dear as spraying.

However, Armadale council reported they had enjoyed good results when using highly concentrated vinegar on some broadleaf weeds in sedges and rushes.

Stirling mayor Mark Irwin said the new policy aimed to reduce the city’s use of chemical-based herbicides and pesticides, but it also needed to effectively control pests and weeds in the biggest council in Perth.

Parks

“The city manages thousands of city-owned parks, reserves and open spaces, as well as more than 3000 kilometres of kerb-lines and footpaths and 13 hectares of traffic islands, so we need to make sure that we are able to control weeds and pests as responsibly and effectively as possible,” he said.

“The intent of this policy is to make sure that this happens in a manner that is as environmentally, socially and economically responsible as possible.”

Since 2014 Stirling has used steam to control weeds on “hard infrastructure” like kerbs and footpaths on Beaufort Street, and this year it extended the treatment to road reserves beside sensitive sites including aged care facilities, schools, child care centres and hospitals.

The city also has a “no spray” list for residents who can maintain their verge in a weed-free condition, and it provides notification of planned spraying.

Cockburn council reported that 16 councils confirmed they were using glyphosate, with some using a mix of the herbicide and organic treatments:

• Peppermint Grove is trialling “eco-organic” with mixed results

• Fremantle uses steam on roads/kerb lines/footpaths with glyphosate used in parks an reserves

• Bassendean banned glyphosate on hard surfaces but still using it in parks

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