​Broadspectrum and EastLink use goats to clear fire-prone brush

The Broadspectrum landscaping team working on the EastLink contract used lateral thinking – and ultimately goats – to address a workplace sustainability challenge.

The team identified a parcel of land overgrown with blackberry brush and other non-native varietals, creating a potential fire risk. The parcel sits behind a noise wall running along the back of residential properties, where the outbound lanes of EastLink intersect with the outbound ramp of the Monash Freeway. The area is difficult to access, hindering traditional weed management activities.

The team researched natural weed management techniques and settled on GrazeAway, a company which hires goats for vegetation management. To ensure the safety of the goats and the public, the goats had a reliable water source and no access to the motorway, bike and walking trails.

General Manager of Road Operations at EastLink, Murray Harding, said, “This initiative has provided a safer work environment for our employees and yielded a more effective outcome through the use of natural resources with zero use of herbicides or pesticides.”

Goats have an amazing ability to clear land of invasive weeds and nuisance plants. Their continual browsing of foliage, twigs and leaf buds exhausts the root system and kills the plant. And because no herbicides are used, the surrounding soil fungi, insects and worms are unharmed.

The herd of around 40 goats spent a few months across various locations, successfully clearing the EastLink parcels of land, minimising the spread of weeds and also potential fire risk. Large goats are initially used to clear the area, with smaller goats then used periodically for maintenance. Additionally, the cleared areas have been treated with natural dung to provide a better habitat for natural ground fauna.

Broadspectrum has partnered with EastLink to operate and maintain the 40-kilometre highway and its tunnels since opening in 2008. EastLink is the fastest and safest road in Melbourne, carrying 250,000 vehicles per day.