What is Gorse?

Gorse (also known as furze or Ulex europaeus) is a listed Weed of National Significance. It was introduced in the 1800s as a hedge plant, but quickly became one of Victoria’s most invasive and destructive weeds.

The dense evergreen gorse shrub can grow to several metres high and wide. It has deep and extensive roots, prickly stems and thrives in areas with low rainfall. Gorse is pioneer plant on poor soils and disturbed areas, quickly becoming the dominant plant species. Flowering in the warmer months, gorse has a yellow, coconut scented flower. Gorse can negatively affect your property – it infests valuable pastoral land and significantly reduces land values as a fire risk. It’s a haven for rabbits, foxes and feral cats, it clogs waterways and damages natural environments.

If there are declared weeds on my land, what does it mean?

Declared weeds can cause significant detrimental impacts on agricultural production, biodiversity and social values. The Catchment and Land Protection Act 1994 (CaLP Act) defines four categories of declared noxious weeds:

  • State Prohibited Weeds
  • Regionally Prohibited Weeds
  • Regionally Controlled Weeds
  • Restricted Weeds.

Under the Catchment and Land Protection Act 1994, if you have a regionally prohibited or regionally controlled weed on your land in Victoria you have the legal responsibility to control that weed.

Gorse is categorised into one of the above four categories for each catchment region in Victoria. Click here to see what gorse is classified in your catchment management region or download the VGT Gorse Best Practice Guide.

How can I control gorse?

Read the VGT Gorse Best Practice Guide for detailed information on practical application of gorse control methods or contact the VGT here.

What chemicals do I use?

There are a variety of chemicals that are registered for the control of gorse in Victoria and it is best to talk directly with your local chemical supplier or rural merchant for specific recommendations that best suit your situation. Please be aware that under the Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals (Control of Use) Act 1992 there are restrictions on the use of chemicals and it is the responsibility of the user to be familiar with the requirements.

A valid Agricultural Chemical Users Permit (ACUP) is also required for use of some chemicals. For more information on chemical use legislation in Victoria, please click here.

How do I mulch gorse?

Mulching gorse is a method of control that suppresses regrowth and reduces the height of the plant for follow up control works. Large machinery with a mulcher attachment slashes gorse plants with little soil disturbance however, this method will not kill gorse, but it improves access for a range of follow up treatments.

The eco blade is a piece of machinery that is similar to a mulcher attachment. This difference is the eco blade cuts, mulches and chemically paints the cut stumps of woody weeds.

Not all service providers have access to a mulcher or eco blade so check with your local weed control contractor to discuss options.

Read the VGT Gorse Best Practice Guide for more information on mulching gorse as a control method.

How can I avoid spreading gorse?

Gorse seeds can be spread to further parts of Victoria by imported fodder, grain, gravel, sand and soil. They can be transported by machinery, animals and humans. The potential for spread of gorse is particularly high along linear reserves including roadsides and water ways, and these areas should be prioritised in any control program.

Good Farm Biosecurity measures are designed by landowners to prevent the establishment and spread of pest and diseases on their property, including gorse. Prevention of infestations is the best option for weed control as well as for all pest and diseases. To minimise risks of gorse entering your property or spreading further in your community you can:

  • Ensure purchased materials entering your property are free of seed contamination.
  • Ensure all vehicles and equipment are thoroughly cleaned to remove any soil, seed or parts of the plant before leaving infested areas and entering areas that are free of the weed.
  • Maintain weed-free buffer zones between infested and non-infested land.

Please be aware that under the Catchment and Land Protection Act 1994, it is an offence to sell, transport or deposit onto land any material contaminated with noxious weeds.

For more information please visit the Farm Biosecurity website.

How do I start my gorse control?

The first step to start your gorse control is commitment for long term, integrated gorse control techniques. Part of this is to develop a gorse control management plan. When you start developing your gorse control plan there are a few things that you should consider including:

  • Work with your neighbours
  • Make it a long-term management plan and stick to it
  • Review and amend your plan as appropriate
  • Seek professional advice
  • Aim to treat every plant
  • Don’t let plants set seed
  • Remain vigilant and always follow up the previous season’s work.

Some main components to a successful gorse control program are:

  • A long-term commitment from the land manager
  • Treating all plants before they set seed
  • The use of a combination of control methods
  • To be persistent and regularly follow up with inspections of previous season’s work
  • Revegetation and a change in the land use practices that allowed gorse to spread and grow.

What time of year is best to undertake treatment?

Treatment of gorse can occur at any time of year (weather permitting) with the use of at least one control method.

Are there any alternative methods to control gorse without chemicals?

Yes. Mulching, physical removal and cultivation are some control methods of gorse that don’t require the use of chemicals. Chemical free control methods can be effective but are often more labour intensive, costly and require increased levels of commitment and vigilance by the landholder over a long period.

Please read the VGT Gorse Best Practice Guide for more detailed information on chemical free gorse control methods.

Can I burn gorse as a method of control?

While you can burn gorse, you need to register your planned burn with the Country Fire Authority (CFA) and possibly your local council. You may also need to obtain a fire permit before undertaking controlled burning. Please visit the CFA website for full details of your responsibilities.

Burning gorse is not a reliable method of control on its own, but it can be useful in reducing the above ground plant material prior to other treatment methods.

For more information, please read the VGT Gorse Best Practice Guide for more detailed information.

Are there any biological control methods for the control of gorse?

There are biological control options available for gorse. These natural enemies of gorse include the seed weevil, the gorse spider mite, the gorse thrips and the soft shoot moth. Their combined impact may reduce the abundance, growth rate and seeding capacity of gorse, however they will not eradicate gorse. Biological control is best suited for use in areas where the application of conventional control methods is inappropriate. Please contact the VGT here for more information.

I have heard that goats can be used as a method to control gorse. Is this true?

Using goats for grazing gorse is not a reliable method for achieving long-term control in Victoria. This approach could be used in conjunction with other control methods however. As with burning, be aware that there are additional costs and various responsibilities and considerations that need to be addressed.

For more information on goats and sheep in gorse management please click here.

For information on the legal requirements of livestock management please click here.

Can I use multiple methods to control gorse?

Yes. Using a variety of methods to control gorse should be part of your long-term gorse management plan. It is integral that you investigate the most suitable methods for gorse control that can be implemented throughout the year, in conjunction with weather conditions, location and legal requirements at your property.

How long will it take to control my gorse?

Gorse control is a long-term investment with gorse seeds having the potential to lie dormant in the soil for up to 30 years, but the appropriate management may eventually result in eradication. However, the most important aspect of your long-term gorse management plan, is to follow up control works, otherwise your initial investment on control may be wasted.

How can the VGT help me?

The VGT leads an integrated approach to reducing gorse across private and public land. We source funding from across government to support community-led activities to reduce gorse in local areas. Community groups such as Landcare, can also provide information and practical support to landowners managing gorse and other weeds. The VGT can provide advice, gorse management resources and support to individuals, groups and the community.

For more information on the VGT committee please click here.

Is there any funding assistance available to help control gorse on my land?

The VGT offers an annual VGT community grants program which provides a $1:$1 contribution to eligible groups needing assistance for the control of gorse.

  • Our Small Community Grants Program provides up to $5,000 for small-scale gorse control on individual properties. It provides funding up to 50% of costs for landholders to undertake gorse control.
  • Our Large Community Grants Program provides up to $30,000 over 4 years for community-led gorse control education and treatment across a local landscape. It provides funding for a project officer as well as rebates to landholders.

For more information on our community projects, click here.

My neighbour has gorse and won’t control it, what do I do?

Attempt to contact your neighbour and discuss your concerns as an adjoining landowner or your local Landcare group to discuss gorse control. Organise a group campaign involving other concerned landholders in your area and apply for the VGT grants to encourage your neighbour to undertake gorse control. If unsuccessful, contact Agriculture Victoria on 136 186 to discuss the issue and options for lodging a formal complaint. Note that a formal complaint will need to be made in writing and contain mandatory information including personal and property details.

Who is responsible for gorse control along roadsides?

Roadside weed control for the majority of country roadsides rests with Local Municipalities. For main roads as declared under the Roadside Management Act 2004, the responsibility is with VicRoads (click here for the VicRoads declared roads map).

Who is responsible for gorse control along railway lines?

Roadside weed control along railway line infrastructure is the responsibility of the linear reserve manager who owns/leases the land. This is generally VLine in regional Victoria or Metro.

Who do I contact if there is gorse on Crown Land and in waterways?

Crown land and waterways are typically the responsible of the state government, a delegate of the responsible minister, the Governor in Council or a delegated land manager. These can be Catchment Management Authorities, the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP), Parks Victoria or an individual or business who leases the land. Due to privacy, if an individual or business is responsible for the land you will be unable to find out who is responsible for it. Contact the DELWP Land Registry Services on 03 9194 0601 or general enquiries on 136 186 for more information.