Nature Conservation Margaret River Region appoints Mike Griffiths to head Arum Lily Blitz

Warren HatelyAugusta Margaret River Times
Mike Griffiths will be leading the charge to eradicate arum lilies.
Camera IconMike Griffiths will be leading the charge to eradicate arum lilies. Credit: Trevor Paddenburg

Nature Conservation Margaret River Region has appointed a new commander for its ongoing war on arum lilies.

Experienced environmental and landcare manager Mike Griffiths was recently appointed to take the helm of the next three-year Arum Lily Blitz tackling the invasive South African species and to control the spread of sweet pittosporum, which is ravaging the region.

The biodiversity officer comes to Margaret River after many years as a regular visitor and with a background in the environmental management of the internationally-recognised Ramsar-listed Peel-Yalgorup wetlands south of Mandurah and working on country with Indigenous rangers in the Great Western Woodlands.

He told the Times his previous roles all focused on weed control but included issues such as illegal vehicle and feral animal control, revegetation of wetlands, restoring bushland, working with farmers and land owners, and helping protect cultural sites.

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“I have spent time in the Capes area on many occasions over the years and noticed changes, including a huge increase and spread of arum lilies,” Mr Griffiths said.

“I never forget that controlling weeds is not the end game but is all about protecting our precious forests, rivers and coast.

“I’m impressed by how switched-on and forward-thinking so many local people there are in the area — I’m convinced this is a quite a special community in many ways.”

A commitment from residents and land owners was key to the NCMRR program, which started in 2019 not long after other peak WA bodies declared the war on arum lilies had been lost.

The latest campaign received a three-year funding commitment from the WA Government’s State Natural Resources Management Program which was extended to 2024.

Mr Griffith replaces NCMRR officer Genevieve Hanran-Smith.

“The success over the past three years shows what can happen when people work together with a common goal,” he said.

Nearly 1400 properties have been registered and weed control carried out on 17,000ha but more people are urged to sign up.

“It’s so inspiring to see landholders, organisations and government bodies rallying together to take action against something that once seemed so insurmountable,” Mr Griffiths said.

Left unchecked, experts believed arum lily threatened to “wipe out” biodiversity across the Capes because of its ability to overrun native flora, destroying crucial understorey vegetation and replacing it with an all-consuming monoculture.

The Arum Lily Blitz offers registrants free herbicide, co-ordinated workshops, work days and volunteer support for tackling the invasive species. Visit natureconservation.org.au for details.

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