OPINION – Fire ants could have far-reaching effects

DEAR News Of The Area,

In relation to your article on July 14, ‘Ministers urged to step Up Fire Eradication Plan’, the fire ants are now within five kilometres of the northern NSW border and are breaking containment lines in southeast Queensland every week.

Agricultural Ministers across the country have acknowledged that fire ants could inflict severe damage on crops (such as blueberries and bananas), agricultural workers, native animals and plants, tourism and public health.

What’s missing from that list is the potential loss of tens of thousands of hours of work that is done by Landcare volunteers and staff: weed control, dune stabilisation, reforestation, native plant propagation and education.

If the fire ants spread south, Landcare groups may find they no longer have any volunteers, because they won’t go onto sites where the ant is likely to sting them. Along with the damage to
native species, the loss to the environment would be incalculable.

A strategic study recommended two years ago that governments should spend $300 million a year on eradication, but current funding is falling way short of that.

Lorraine DAVIES,
Toormina (and Landcare volunteer).

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