Winning the Willow War


Removing willows will help to improve creek health at the headwaters of Leura Cascades

Council, the Leura Creek Landcare Group and the South Leura Catchment Group have teamed up with the Sydney Catchment Authority (SCA) and the Greater Sydney Local Land Services (GSLLS) to realise a vision to eradicate invasive willows from the South Leura catchment.

Council is matching $17,250 in grant funding from the SCA over three years with investment from Council’s Environment Levy, including the provision of technical advice, on-the-ground support, plants and tools. A $20,000 grant from the GSLLS for 2015 will add further resources to the effort.

Willow control is part of Council’s Noxious Weeds Program, which targets noxious (highly invasive, destructive) weeds across the City. This program  provides assistance for private landholders who proactively control willow on their property.

Pussy willow (Salix cinerea), was introduced in the early days of European settlement, and rapidly spread across the Blue Mountains, particularly between Mount Victoria and Hazelbrook.

Willows thrive in streams, swamps and moist forests, often becoming very dense, and their impact on waterways can be devastating – destroying habitats for fish and other animals; causing erosion and localised flooding; and depleting creek waters of oxygen, making it difficult for aquatic life. They can also spread very quickly, so early detection and control is critical.

Pussy willow seed can drift up to 100 kilometres by wind or water before taking hold at a new site — much like a bushfire can spot ahead of the main front.

The good news is that Council and the community are gradually winning the willow battle. Pussy willows are now under advanced control between Mt Victoria and Katoomba. With a systematic, comprehensive approach, it will be possible to win the willow war in the Blue Mountains.

Council is encouraging residents to report pussy willow sightings to Council’s Noxious Weeds team, on 4780 5000.

Other weeds currently being targeted by Council’s Noxious Weeds control program include Gorse, Broom, Boneseed, African Olive, Lantana and   Cabomba.

Find out more about weeds in your local area or Council’s Weed Management Strategy at: