AbCF acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the lands where we work and live and pay our respect to Elders past, present and emerging and celebrate the stories, culture and traditions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples of all Communities. AbCF acknowledges, respects and honours Indigenous peoples vital role in caring for country in the past and stress the importance of this continued practice into the future.
WARNING: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers please be aware that content on this website may contain images, voices and or names of people who have passed away.

The gamba threat

Could the spread of an African grass imported in the 1980s really threaten savanna burning projects?

Vanessa Adams and Aaron Petty think gamba grass could become a big problem: after being introduced into the Northern Territory in the 1980s to support the pastoral industry, it is starting to run rampant.

What’s the problem?

Gamba grass is a hardly perennial which copes well with the tropical summers so it has become an aggressive weed – perhaps it is already in position on around 20% of properties which could do savanna burning.

Gamba grass is a big grass – it grows up to 4m high, is highly flammable and its hot fires are overwhelming local cool fire adapted species. Aaron Petty reports one study showing a 50% reduction in local marsupials in 5 years because of hot fires.

The problem is that dealing with gamba grass can cost $40 per hectare but careful savanna burning only brings in less than $2 per hectare. With the rubbing away of biodiversity money, it’s a tricky equation to balance for landowners and carbon farmers. There’s even been suggestions of introducing elephants and rhinos to tame this grassy beast!

But gamba is just one of a number of threats including mimosa and rubber vine. Charles Darwin University and the NT Government are developing a decision tool called the Weed Risk Management System to assist landowners deal with all these problems.

It’s an area we will have to watch – carbon money can help rebalance how we manage land, but it’s not enough to deal with weeds and biodiversity on a broader scale.

Read the National Environmental Research Program and Aaron Petty for more on gamba.


Website created by RJ New Designs