Sydney’s Lane Cove National Park is a step closer to being free of noxious weeds after a team of volunteers exchanged keyboards for shovels.

The team, comprised of nearly 150 executives from 15 companies, joined a mission led by Landcare Australia to tackle the weeds that threaten Australia’s natural biodiversity.

It’s a mission that’s inspired some 3,000 corporate volunteers during the past 12 months.

One of the weeds on the hit list was lantana, first recorded in 1841 and introduced by settlers as an ornamental hedge plant.

The aggressive invader has since spread to infest more than four million hectares of eastern Australia, and has the dubious honour of being designated a Weed of National Significance.

Not only does it grow quickly and choke native forest, it’s also toxic to cattle and can severely impact farmland.

“Weeds in national parks such as Lane Cove pose a big problem — threatening food supplies, altering the ecosystem and potentially taking over,” explained Tessa Jakszewicz, CEO of Landcare Australia.

“To keep on top of the issue, significant resources would be needed, but in an environment of strained budgets, volunteers play a crucial role.”

Getting Involved

Green thumbs from Coca-Cola’s North Sydney headquarters put on their gloves last week to help clear more than a hectare of weeds from a patch near Tunks Hull picnic area. 

“If you didn’t have gloves you’d tear your hands to pieces – the weeds were everywhere,” said Bobbie Crothers, one of Coca-Cola’s Landcare volunteers.

To clear the lantana, volunteers worked in teams using small handsaws and loppers to cut the weeds off at their base, then applied herbicide - dyed bright pink - to finish the job.

Replacing weeds is more than 1,300 native seedlings including waratah, wattle, and wallaby grass. The volunteers also brought in 50 cubic metres of mulch to help the plants become established and condition the soil for future planting.

“Some of the seedlings were planted to provide grass cover to help keep the soil intact, some were bigger trees to provide shade, and they were all natives found in the national park,” Bobbie said.

“It was amazing to see the difference we made, and just how much we’d cleared and planted.”