Munching through weeds at Bunurong

12 September 2023
Two close up images of goats side-by-side.

New hungry horticultural helpers have found a home at Bunurong Memorial Park (BMP). The Southern Metropolitan Cemeteries Trust (SMCT) welcomed ten goats in August as part of an ongoing commitment to a more ‘natural’ system of weed management.

Goats have been successfully used to control weeds in selected areas at SMCT’s Springvale Botanical Cemetery for more than 18 months with the program now extended to a second site. They target weeds and invasive plant species by eating them.

The crossbreed goats, which have some mountain goat traits, are leased to SMCT with the management and ongoing care provided by GrazeAway.

More than 18 months of cross-functional planning, collaboration, and engagement led by Mark Phillips, Operations Leader at BMP resulted in the safe introduction of the goats along a boundary area at BMP – contained within a specially designed goat proof fence line to focus their attention on the controlled area.

“It's not just about having cute little furry goats hanging around,” SMCT Operations Manager Scott O’Beirne explains.

“We are now able to work towards eliminating the use of chemical weed control along an entire span of the boundary area including a significant waterway.”

Two images arranged vertically side-by-side. The left a close up of a goats in an enclosed area, the right is seven goats spread out amongst greenery.

Environmental impact

Weed management is a critical aspect to maintaining the beauty of SMCT sites and finding a sustainable, environmentally friendly option for dealing with weeds is equally important.

SMCT has previously utilised goats as a form of integrated weed management, with around 20 goats making residence at Springvale Botanical Cemetery. Here they operate on a rotational system, with the goats managing weeds in an area for four to six weeks before moving to another allocated space. The goats have become well-loved by team members, despite having a knack for stealing lunches.

The goats are smart enough to know which plants are weeds and can be eaten, and, over time, the goats weed management will be effective enough to allow SMCT to reintroduce native plant species. In turn this creates more sustainable, responsible habitats for local animals, birds, and insects, building biodiversity across our site.

Two images of goats side-by-side. The left a close up, the right a goat standing next to a tree.

SMCT is committed to embedding more sustainable practices that look after our environment. Our Environmental Strategy outlines this commitment to protecting the environment, using resources sustainably, and building biodiversity and restoring natural habitats. Using goats as a ‘natural’ weed management tool, rather than chemicals, is one step in the process.

Two images arranged vertically side-by-side. The left three goats in tall grass, the right three goats in the sun behind a fence.
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