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Weed management strategy

Agricultural weeds and environmental weeds are different.

Environmental weeds are defined here as exotic plants that invade native vegetation, usually adversely affecting the survival of the indigenous flora. (exotic = from overseas, other states or outside their pre-European habitat)

The environmental weed problem is likely to affect all vegetation formations in Australia, and along with land clearing is one of the most serious threats to vegetation and fauna survival.

  • Our organisation's core business can be thought of as practical management of native vegetation/ecosystems and that includes environmental weeds.
  • It is the economics of weed control that dictates agricultural weed control measures. Farmers and farming landcare groups know that business best.

Declaration of weeds in legislation is valuable for education and is very important to allow grants to manage the highest priority weed situations but control obligation elements will not work

A few environmental weeds like wetland weeds greatly affect our local economy through fewer fish fingerlings.

Urban "heritage like" natural assets will inevitably become "historical parks" so the earliest eradication of all woody weeds will exponentially reduce future costs but is not regionally significant for conservation. Once urban natural assets are weed free will the urban communities think the weed problem solved?

 However most environmental weeds do not affect our artificially created economy. Once environmental weeds establish, even one plant, basically they will continue to spread forever uninhibited.

In our region one in ten species in our natural assets is already exotic. Victoria with it's longer European habitation has one exotic in five native species.

Certainly the thrust of effective and significant environmental weed management will pivot around minimal cost options. That means prevention, very early detection and eradication. Urban concern about weeds can be galvanised by communicating the threat to biodiversity. Primary producers and local councils will welcome such public pressure because effective environmental weed management will also remove potential agricultural weeds and save their economy megabucks.


Under construction



Proposed regional environmental weed management strategy (summary)

To more detailed strategy

This summary, and the more detailed strategy elsewhere are extracts that are totally verbatim in many places, and are all derived from text by Carr, Yugovic and Robinson, 1992. Very extensive research was carried out for the State of Victoria to produce their publication. We are unaware of any similar information for North Queensland, but the principles are certainly very similar.

It is proposed that the summary, the more detailed strategy, and also the quite short original booklet text be adopted as Townsville region's environmental weed strategy.

We look forward to sitting down with regional nurserymen to address ways of reducing the sale of weedy species at the source. The onus is on us to respect plant customers wishes and the practical hands on expert in plant retail and landscaping. Through respectful partnerships we hope nursery and landscaping employees will readily sell the weed story.

Vast areas of Australia are threatened by weed invasions, this is especially evident in Northern Australia.

However preventative action can be taken to avert such losses.

Changes in ecosystem ... may adversely affect some (animal) species and favour others, but in the long term massive ecosystem disruption and faunal extinction seem inevitable.

The environmental weed problem is likely to affect all vegetation formations in Australia, and along with land clearing is one of the most serious threats to vegetation and fauna survival. The impact of weeds on native vegetation has been catastrophic, and the process continues today at an accelerating pace. The world wide web is a particular threat as mail can bypass quarantine regulations.

  1. Accidental introduction of species occurs but deliberate introduction is of the most concern for environmental weed management. In Victoria 65-70 % of naturalised exotic species have been introduced deliberately for ornament (most species) or utility.
  2. The nursery and rural advice industries have played a concerning role, especially regarding the establishment and spread of new weeds. Of the 548 environmental weeds listed for Victoria, 43% are known to be commercially available. The majority of this 43% are horticultural ornamentals for which non-invasive alternatives are readily available.

  3. Hymenachne amplexucaulis threatens Townsville's natural wetlands
    Plant introductions for agricultural purposes, will ideally behave as weeds, as intended by their importers. Unfortunately they are often successful. E.g Hymenachne amplexicaulis


  4. The ease with which Australian species become naturalised (as environmental weeds) is well illustrated.
  5. The bulk of environmental weeds have not fully occupied the available habitat and are enlarging their range.
  6. Some extensive and remote areas of Victoria remain free of environmental weeds. But in these areas disturbed roadsides and streamlines provide a network of source areas in which many weeds are abundant.
  7. Many small patches of native vegetation close to developed areas currently remains in moderate to good condition. Such remnants are not necessarily stable, and almost always experience weed invasion along boundaries.
  8. Environmental weed literature is produced mainly by botanical consultants, and little has been disseminated. Financial incentives will probably be necessary to encourage the publishing of work on environmental weeds.
  9. Monitoring and early action forms the basis of effective weed management. The invading species is only perceived to be a problem when the population reaches a critical size.
  10. Particularly the urgency for action is often unappreciated by local government. Funding of nature reserve management by local government is very small relative to overall expenditure on the maintenance of parks, gardens and street plantings. The low priority and resources given to indigenous vegetation management is at odds with public interest in local conservation.
  11. The community currently plays a major role in managing environmental weeds, not only in a practical sense, but also through influencing governments.
  12. Governments are responsive to community attitudes and pressures. Management agencies can and will continue to justify the low priority often given to weed control, where there is an apparent lack of interest from within the environment movement.


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Dry Tropics Biodiversity Group, Inc. (drytropics.org) joining project groups executive members