Jewel bee­tle crown­ing glory for fa­cil­ity

Central and North Burnett Times - - LIFE FENCEPOST -

MONTO State High School has un­veiled a new project to com­bat the spread of an in­va­sive species dev­as­tat­ing the North Bur­nett’s agri­cul­tural sec­tor.

The bio-con­trol fa­cil­ity was of­fi­cially opened on Wed­nes­day.

Ex­ten­sive mod­i­fi­ca­tions have brought the space back to life in a ma­jor boost for the school’s sci­ence and agri­cul­ture pro­grams.

Stu­dents will use the re­search cen­tre to help lo­cal veg­e­ta­tion over­run by cat’s claw.

The re­vamped fa­cil­ity is breed­ing jewel bee­tles – bugs evolved to eat the de­struc­tive plant and curb its spread.

Coun­cil’s nat­u­ral re­source man­age­ment of­fi­cer, Jenny Voigt, said floods had al­lowed the pest to thrive along the Bur­nett River.

“Cat’s claw is an en­vi­ron­men­tal weed but it’s just as dev­as­tat­ing as agri­cul­tural weeds,” she said.

“Once it spreads to trees and en­ters the canopy it flow­ers and seeds.

“It can com­pletely smother the en­vi­ron­ment.

“The in­sects won’t kill the plant but they will re­duce its vigour.

“It’s not a sil­ver bul­let but it slows down the process and al­lows other meth­ods to work.”

Monto State High School prin­ci­pal Kylie Cochran said stu­dents would ben­e­fit from tak­ing part in a real-world pest man­age­ment project.

“It’s a fan­tas­tic fa­cil­ity,” Mrs Cochran said.

“It will open up re­search-based ca­reer op­por­tu­ni­ties for our sci­ence, agri­cul­ture and hu­man­i­ties stu­dents.”


CUT­TING EDGE: Toby Wor­ley, Kylie Cochran, Jill Robert­son and Jenny Voigt launch the new bio-con­trol re­search fa­cil­ity at Monto State High School.

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