Territory Stories

Devil's advocate



Devil's advocate

Other title

The quarterly magazine from the Arid Lands Environment Centre


Arid Lands Environment Centre


Devil's advocate; E-Journals; PublicationNT; Devil's advocate




Alice Springs


Made available via the Publications (Legal Deposit) Act 2004 (NT).; This publication contains may contain links to external sites. These external sites may no longer be active.; Healthy futures for arid lands and people




Environmental Protection; Australia, Central; Conservation Of Natural Resources; Arid Lands Environment Centre (Australia); Periodicals

Publisher name

Arid Lands Environment Centre

Place of publication

Alice Springs


Devil's advocate


Autumn 2015

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Copyright owner

Arid Lands Environment Centre



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person reduces consumption or stops supporting unsustainable companies celebrate. The coal port gets delayed again celebrate. Even if you had nothing to do with the win, celebrate. Celebrate the fact that there are others out there who are also fighting; you are not alone in this. Be good to yourself. We all know the benefits of exercise and eating well (I also love the fact that eating well as in fresh fruit and vegetables is also taking support away from sugary, processed, nutrient deficient processed food). However being good to yourself is not just about exercise and eating well, it is doing the things you love to do. Make time for that special something that makes you happy, from bush walking, painting, riding, talking with friends, playing with family, go for that massage, holiday or film you have wanted to see. If you find yourself putting these things aside then STOP. You need to recharge, this is not being selfish or wasting time on things when you should be fighting the fight. This is taking care of you and making sure that you are in good condition to fight. Be good to yourself. Yes I have just repeated myself and for good reason. This time it is about the days when you just feel like shit, the days you cannot cope, feel like ranting, crying, screaming. One of the most important things that was ever told to me is that it is OK to feel like shit. We all have bad days and there are going to be more of them, its OK. Give yourself permission to cry, rant, rave, hide in bed all day or whatever it is that you need to do to help get it out of your system, its OK. You will feel better and you will get up and keep going. And lastly, HUG. The power of a hug can never be underestimated. Hugs are not just about the purely physical contact, hugs do a lot for the brain as well. A good hug lifts your spirits, increases the good flow of chemicals in the brain. They increase your energy, and remind you that you are not alone. The emotional benefit from a good hug can never be underestimated. Ok there is a short list of tips that do help, and each one of us could add more, please do so. Remember that it is important for each of us as individuals to be in good shape. This is important to look after ourselves as just imagine how ruddy horrified the other side is when they look at us and realize that we are not divided and that even with the small amount of resources that we have, we are strong, powerful and we are not going away. We are most definitely a force that they lose sleep over, and that to me is a very good thing. Carmel Vandermolen Working Towards Fifty Shades of Green Buffel grass (Cenchrus ciliaris) was introduced as a pasture grass to central Australia during a drought in the 1950s. Decades of overgrazing due to government enforced stocking rates combined with a long drought, was causing dust storms in the region and making it dangerous for the airline industry. The CSIRO and the Northern Territory Government introduced a range of different strains of buffel grass in the 1970s to keep the dust down around town. The different varieties hybridised, their genes crossed creating the monster grass we see all around Alice Springs and across central Australia. It is spreading fast and has become less palatable to cattle compared to native grasses. A healthy arid ecosystem is defined by everything having its place. Take a look on the spinifex hills around town to see this in action. There should be fifty shades of green in the landscape but instead there is just one. Buffel grass is everywhere, crowding out local species and getting right up into the shrubs and the base of trees. Its currently pretty depressing to look around and see how far it has gone. Even more so is the fact that every clump of buffel is now at the end of its flowering cycle, which is good for us hayfever sufferers but it means that the seed load which has been massive, will be dispersed widely by the wind, domesticated and wild animals, vehicles and on our shoes and clothing. But its not just the incredible rates of growth after rain that is the problem with buffel. It burns hotter than everything else. The flames reach into the crowns of trees and wipe out many fire-sensitive species of trees and shrubs. Fires race up rivers, creeks and hills quicker than ever before. Larger fires are more likely due to the ever-growing presence of buffel grass. Take a look around. An inland ocean of buffel surrounds us. It is waist high at present and is knocking on the back doors of almost every rural resident and urban fringe dweller in town. Its been referred to as the cane toad of the grasses but it is also considered a very important grass for cattle producers. This here lays the problem. It is a curse for many but it is a blessing for others, which means rather than doing something about it the problem is allowed to continue unabated. The Federal Government has acknowledged that it is a novel biota that is having impacts on biodiversity on a national level. A threat abatement advice was produced and released which detailed much about what we could do about it but there were no resources attached to assist. The South Australian Government has listed buffel grass as a weed and developed a strategic plan manage the threat. It is hoped that this will allocate some resources to support people willing to put some effort into dealing with it. Here in the Northern Territory, there is currently no risk of calling buffel grass a weed. In the latest iteration of the Alice Springs Regional Weed Management Plan there was a refusal by the pastoral lobby to sign onto the plan if buffel grass was listed as a weed, instead it was listed as a significant threat and that was the end of that. However, this is why I have decided to write about buffel grass because you deserve to know and understand how much of a significant threat it is it is huge. We are surroundedbut what can we do? The question is a matter of scale. The challenge of buffel grass is so huge that it immobilises people. It is a sure-fire way to feel helpless.walking into the