Winemakers, grape growers urged to join program

Margaret River Wine Sustainability Engagement Officer Eloise Jarvis said arum lilies impacted water resources required by vineyards and wineries. Photo: Taelor Pelusey.
Margaret River Wine Sustainability Engagement Officer Eloise Jarvis said arum lilies impacted water resources required by vineyards and wineries. Photo: Taelor Pelusey.

Margaret River's wine industry is backing a region-wide arum lily control program in a bid to improve the industry's sustainability and support biodiversity.

The Arum Lily Blitz is now in its third year and has welcomed support from the Margaret River Wine Association - specifically members of its Sustainability Project, which helps wine grape growers and wineries improve their sustainability credentials across various areas.

Margaret River Wine Sustainability Engagement Officer Eloise Jarvis said arum lilies did not directly affect grape growing but can impact water resources required by vineyards and wineries, and biodiversity values, which is why many wine grape growers were increasingly becoming involved in arum lily control.

"As a noxious weed, they rapidly take over areas and reduce biodiversity - especially within remnant bush and waterways on properties - and can lead to increased pressure from native fauna damaging grapes because their natural food sources are potentially diminished," she said.

"This ability to rapidly invade areas is why we need to be proactive about arum lily control.

"A healthy, biodiverse ecology is always a more sustainable and better option."

Arum lily is a toxic species introduced from South Africa and has taken hold across the region.

It chokes native vegetation, reduces the availability of food for wildlife and threatens biodiversity.

However, the State Natural Resource Management Program-funded Arum Lily Blitz is fighting back by coordinating control activities and providing participants with free herbicide, easy-to-follow instructions, and invaluable resources.

Ms Jarvis said the program complemented the 46 vineyard and 12 winery Sustainability Winegrowing Australia members, who actively measure and control pests through individual Sustainability Action Plans and Biodiversity Management Programs.

Nature Conservation Margaret River Region project officer Genevieve Hanran-Smith said it was great to have the industry's support.

"Some wine operations take up large areas of land so the Arum Lily Blitz, and in turn, the region's biodiversity, is benefitting immensely from the wine industry's support," she said.

"We'd love to encourage all grape growers and winemakers to make a commitment to weed control and sustainability as a whole."

With funding from the State NRM Program, the Blitz has been bringing together local and State Government agencies, environmental organisations and private landholders since 2019.

Register for the Blitz at natureconservation.org.au or contact Margaret River Wine Association at mrwa@margaretriver.wine for more information on the Sustainability Project.