Summer of surveillance, surveys and sniffer dogs in Kosciuszko National Park
The National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) have started the annual summer hawkweed eradication program with drone surveillance, helicopter surveys and sniffer dogs on duty to find and destroy weeds in Kosciuszko.
NPWS Senior Weeds Officer, Hillary Cherry, said this year they are ramping up efforts to stop orange and mouse-ear hawkweed from invading this iconic conservation area.
"We use a combination of survey methods to check if the weed has spread - and to see how the plants are responding to last year's control treatments," Ms Cherry said.
"A large part of the project is trying to find any new infestations - and this is where we are drawing on cutting edge surveillance technology and 'old school' methods.
"This summer we'll have drones flying over hundreds of hectares of remote back country, taking photos that are then analysed for the distinctive flashes of bright orange-flowering hawkweed.
"We are also working with Macquarie University researchers who are trialling the use of multi and hyper spectral imagery.
"This technology will identify reflectance of a unique 'signature' from the hawkweed leaves, so we'll be able to spot them even if they are not flowering or if they are well camouflaged amongst native vegetation.
"New wind stations have also been set up to help us predict the direction and distance that hawkweed seeds may spread - helping us pinpoint new sites to survey," Ms Cherry said.
This new technology is backed up by an 'old school' survey method.
From next week through to March, specially-trained conservation detection dogs will be in the field sniffing out the weeds.
They have been trained to sniff out plants that may be hiding under native vegetation and allow NPWS to search a much larger area.
NPWS are now using these tools to help off-park neighbours tackle hawkweeds.
Working with the South East Local Land Services and Snowy Monaro Regional Council, NPWS is making sure that land managers have access to these surveillance and sniffer dog resources - as well as the data NPWS has collected over the last 8 years.
"We're doing this to ensure all land managers can help prevent hawkweed invasion, including on agricultural lands," Ms Cherry said.