New report reveals more than 20% of Litchfield National Park remains heavily infested with Gamba Grass
Tourism operators call for increased government funding to protect local jobs
21 February 2023
Tourism operators in the Top End are demanding the NT Government commit more funding to protect Litchfield Park from the spread of Gamba Grass, following the release of a new report published in the Journal of Environmental Management.
The tourist operators and nature-based business owners are increasingly concerned about gamba grass, citing fire damage and a rapidly-changing landscape as serious threats to their businesses and tourist safety.
“Litchfield is one of the Territory’s greatest treasures and our most visited park. Thousands of people come through here every day to witness the amazing natural sights and experiences – all of which is threatened by the spread of Gamba into the park itself,” Chair of Litchfield Regional Tourism Association, Paul McLaughlin said.
“Whilst it’s been great to see the efforts applied so far, what’s clear is that more must be done to eliminate Gamba from the park before our tourism industry is damaged beyond repair.”
The paper, The cost of not acting: Delaying invasive grass management increases costs and threatens assets in a national park, northern Australia, calls for a significant increase in the eradication zone within the park, a relatively small zone where net infestation has increased by more than 300% between 2014 – 2022.
Research predicts that without increased weed control the biodiversity and tourism assets of the park will be destroyed.
“The ongoing loss of the natural environment and native flora and fauna in gamba-infested areas is having an enormous financial impact on the Northern Territory. If we don’t combat Gamba now and work to reduce dry season fires, I fear we won’t have an environment in Litchfield Park left for tourists to visit and enjoy,” Mr McLaughlin said.
“Ultimately, the success of protecting the park will depend on the NT Government’s ability to drive long-term reductions in the extent of the Gamba infestation,” Gamba Grass Roots Campaigner Pauline Cass said.
“Researchers have established a clear baseline of what’s needed, but we know that significantly increased resources and action will be needed to get Gamba under control – that work needs to start now.”
Gamba Grass Roots is an alliance of The Pew Charitable Trusts and Environment Centre Northern Territory, working to highlight the threat of gamba grass to the Top End community, nature and landscape.