Weevil and weed may be an award winner
A weevil and a water plant have put Gunbalanya School in prime position to win a 2019 NT Landcare Award.
The finalist school may collect the Woolworths Junior Landcare Team Award for studying the impact of the Salvinia Weevil (Cyrtobagous salviniae) on Salvinia (Salvinia molesta) — a highly invasive aquatic weed.
During a two-year program, years 6 to 9 students have periodically released the weevils into areas affected by the voracious plant, which could overtake waterways around Gunbalanya.
The free floating fern — which forms dense mats on water surfaces — is destroyed when the burrowing weevil attacks, causing the virulent weed to die and sink to the bottom.
Learning on Country teacher, Daniel McLaren, said in introducing the biological control agent the students have noted their observations, created a photographic record of their experiments, and used drones to monitor the widespread effects of the black insects.
“By halting salvinia infestations we will ensure our waterways, and the animals that live there are alive and healthy, and people can continue to enjoy those waters through fishing and collecting bush tucker,” he said.
“Other positive aspects of the program have been the development of technological skills through the use of cameras and the drones, and numeracy and literacy skills by analysing and communicating conclusions from the data collected.
“It’s the first time the school has nominated for a Landcare Award, and to have been selected as a finalist has made the school and the community very happy, excited, and proud.”
The Woolworths Junior Landcare Team Award recognises schools, youth organisations, or young community landcare teams that raise awareness, share knowledge, and promote participation of landcare among young people.
The award winners will be announced at a ceremony at Brown’s Mart Theatre on Thursday 26 September 2019.