Victorian Gorse Taskforce

The Victorian Gorse Taskforce was formed in 1999 and launched a community-led integrated approach to reducing gorse across the landscape.

VGT members include local people who have successfully controlled gorse on their land, as well as natural resource management, agricultural, pest management and other experts.

We work with private land owners and public land managers such as the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, local councils and catchment management authorities. We also work with researchers exploring new ways to tackle gorse.

The VGT is part of a wider effort to manage pest animals and plants in Victoria. Similar initiatives include the Victorian Blackberry Taskforce, the Victorian Serrated Tussock Working Party and the Victorian Rabbit Action Network. The key financial supporter of the VGT is Agriculture Victoria.

VGT Members

Karen O’Keefe

Karen is passionate about the environment, productive agriculture and sustainable rural communities. She is currently the Regional Landcare Facilitator with the Corangamite Catchment Management Authority, having previously taught land management and agriculture at Federation University and worked for the Woady Yaloak Catchment Group and Lismore Land Protection Group. Karen has a Bachelor of Applied Science in Environmental Management, Certificate IV in Training and Assessment and a Post Graduate Certificate in Australian Rural Leadership, and is a graduate of the Australian Rural leadership Program. Karen is also active in the Australian Quarter Horse industry and works to get horse owners involved in Landcare activities.

Peter Forster

When Peter returned to the family farm near Ararat in Victoria’s western district in the early 1980s it had extensive areas of gorse on Captains Creek. This gorse is now controlled and has been replaced by native vegetation as part of a Corridors of Green biodiversity project in the Upper Hopkins Landcare area. Peter was secretary of the Upper Hopkins Land Management Group for many years and was an instigator of the Ararat Landcare Group, a peri-urban group. Both groups have launched a coordinated attack on gorse in cooperation with Ararat Rural City, Glenelg Hopkins Catchment Management Authority and various Victorian Government departments. Peter and his partner Christine are currently rehabilitating 500 acres of steep hill granite country on the Great Dividing Range and are interested in sustainable agriculture especially carbon sequestration by re-establishing grassy woodlands ecosystems. Peter says you only control gorse by long-term coordinated community action which often includes a component of enforcement when required. Peter is currently President of conservation organisation ANGAIR.

Nigel Ainsworth

Nigel is Principal Officer Invasive Plants in the Biosecurity Branch of Agriculture Victoria. He joined the VGT in 2008 as a representative of the weeds policy area of the Victorian Government. Before moving to a policy role, Nigel worked as a research scientist in weed management techniques for 10 years at the Keith Turnbull Research Institute in Frankston after arriving in 1996 from the UK (where gorse is native vegetation). Nigel has worked to provide a link between the VGT and state and national policy and strategies, including the Invasive Plants and Animals Policy Framework and the Australian Weeds Strategy. Nigel is continually impressed with the unflagging enthusiasm of the community members of the VGT and their depth of experience in practical gorse management.

Ron Cosgrave

Ron operates a small farming enterprise at Smeaton. Ron is a member of his local Landcare group and a member of the Community Consultative Committee of the North Central Catchment Authority. Ron has a dedicated interest in natural resource management, with a strong passion towards water quality and river health and the fight against gorse.

Brian Rowe

Brian manages a 100-hectare property at Smeaton / Kooroocheang near Ballarat where he runs cows and calves on the basalt plans. He has worked to improve the farm for over 30 years and joined the Blampied Kooroocheang Landcare group to help him build biodiversity across the property. Enhancements include pasture renovation, shelter belts and an increase in native fauna and flora. Brian has successfully eradicated approximately 10 ha of gorse on his property. He is the President of the local Landcare group which promotes gorse control on private and public land in the area. Brian joined the VGT in 2009 and supports the community–led approach to better land management, including the need to control gorse on public land and along shared boundaries with private land.

Peter Everist

Peter got involved with gorse control when he purchased a farm at Cardigan near Ballarat in 1992 that was infested with the weed. Most of the gorse was along the boundary fences and in the Woady Yaloak creek which ran through his property. Peter became passionate about eradicating the weed and in 2005 joined the Woady Yaloak Catchment Project after retiring from his full-time veterinary practice. Peter is now the project’s representative on the VGT and has served as its Chairperson.

John Cable

John and his wife Jill have been working to reclaim and rehabilitate their property since they purchased the 60-acre ‘lifestyle’ block straddling the Loddon River near Glenlyon in Victoria’s north-west in 2000. They are members of the Glenlyon Landcare Group and have focused on repairing the riparian zone of the Loddon River on their land. This has involved the control of gorse and blackberry, and removing willow trees to replace them with indigenous vegetation. John has degrees in pharmacy, chemistry and is an experienced researcher who has also worked in Canada and the USA. He worked with the National Biological Standards Laboratory (now the Therapeutic Goods Association) for more than 20 years before retiring.

Marg Hatton

Marg raises beef cattle at Kilmore and sees weed management as part of her whole-farm management approach. She has extensive experience in managing weeds and supporting diversity, having planted over 3,500 native trees on her property to create wildlife corridors and shelter belts. Marg has helped establish local Landcare groups and has a strong interest in water quality, having worked in partnership with her local catchment management authority. She sees the potential for social media to encourage and support land managers in weed control and better land management.

Matthew Menhennet

Matthew with his father George, over the last 30 years have continued the efforts of controlling gorse on their beef farm just west of Ballarat at Smythes Creek. The property had some areas of gorse that would have been 10 acres in area, but now gorse control consists of a twice a year chemical application on small plants with a Quad bike sprayer as part of the pest management plan. Matthew currently works as the Landmate and Agricultural manager for Corrections Victoria within the Department of Justice.

Additionally to managing 4 open camp prison farms across the state his role managers the “Landmate Environment program”. This program has 8 supervised prisoner work crews that work on environmental projects across the state for organisations such as the Department of Environment, Land Water and Planning (DELWP), Catchment Management Authorities (CMA), Landcare groups and local shires. The program aims to deliver a labour option for environmental project owners and in doing so, works to influence the prisoner’s behaviour to become better citizens on their return to the community.