The overarching policy for weed management in Australia is the Australian Weeds Strategy, which outlines goals and actions required to keep Australia's economic, environmental and social assets secure from the impacts of weeds.
The Australian Weeds Strategy has the following three goals, each with subsidiary individual objectives, strategies (or key actions) and outcomes:
- Prevent new weed problems
- Reduce the impact of existing priority weed problems
- Enhance Australia's capacity and commitment to solve weed problems
The Australian Weeds Strategy is based on the following key principles:
- Weed management is an essential and integral part of the sustainable management of natural resources for the benefit of the economy, the environment, human health and amenity.
- Combating weed problems is a shared responsibility that requires all parties to have a clear understanding of their roles.
- Good science underpins the effective development, monitoring and review of weed management strategies.
- Prioritisation of and investment in weed management must be informed by a risk management approach.
- Prevention and early intervention are the most cost effective techniques for managing weeds.
- Weed management requires coordination among all levels of government in partnership with industry, land and water managers and the community, regardless of tenure.
- Building capacity across government, industry, land and water managers and the community is fundamental to effective weed management.
The Australian Weeds Committee oversees the implementation of the Australian Weeds Strategy on behalf of the Natural Resource Management Ministerial Council, with members representing the Australian Government and all states and territories. The Australian Weeds Committee has established policies and programs to address the objectives of the Australian Weeds Strategy, and its predecessor the National Weeds Strategy. The Weeds of National Significance (WONS) program identifies twenty of Australia's worst weeds within an agricultural, forestry and environmental context. For each WONS there is a national strategy for the control of that weed, and a WONS management coordinator to coordinate the implementation of the strategy.
Weed management activities may also be undertaken at the local, regional and national level through the Australian Government initiative, Caring for our Country .
The Australian Government is committed to developing and participating in policies that support the Australian Weeds Strategy in accordance with its role to provide policy leadership and direction.
The Australian Government departments with primary responsibility for weed management are the Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry and the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities.
Australian Government national and international policies
Weeds management is also addressed in a number of international agreements, or national strategies and programs such as:
- Convention on Biological Diversity
- Ramsar Convention on Wetlands
- The World Heritage Convention
- Australia's Biodiversity Conservation Strategy
- National Biodiversity and Climate Change Action Plan 2004-2007
More information on Australian Government international and domestic policies can be found at the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry and the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities web sites:
- Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry
- Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities
The Australian Government has a number of programs in place to help tackle weed problems of national significance.
Plant import programs
Under the Australian Constitution the Australian Government is responsible for the import and export of plant material to prevent the entry of new potential weeds into Australia.
Caring for our Country
Weed management activities may be funded by the Australian Government's new natural resource management initiative, Caring for our Country . The goal of Caring for our Country is to have an environment that is healthy, better-protected, well-managed, resilient, and that provides essential ecosystem services in a changing climate.
Caring for our Country focuses on achieving strategic results by investing in six national priority areas, some of which include provisions for weed control:
- a national reserve system
- biodiversity and natural icons
- coastal environments and critical aquatic habitats
- sustainable farm practices
- natural resource management in remote and northern Australia
- community skills, knowledge and engagement.
Weed management in the Natural Resource Management regions
In order to facilitate the integrated delivery of Natural Resource Management (NRM) priority issues, the Australian Government, in association with state and territory governments, identified 56 regions covering all of Australia.
An integrated NRM plan, developed within local communities, and supported by government and the best available science, has been developed for each region. These plans consider the environmental, social and economic impacts of NRM decisions on a regional basis, which will help improve the sustainable management of natural resources on a regional scale. The management plans include actions for weed management.
National Cost-Sharing Eradication programs
The Australian Government also provides significant funding towards the National Cost-Sharing Eradication Programs. These programs map, coordinate and undertake activities to eradicate six weed species from Australia.
National Environmental Research Program
The National Environmental Research Program (NERP) will provide around $20 million each year for environmental research to improve our capacity to understand, manage and conserve Australia's unique biodiversity and ecosystems through the generation of world-class research, and its delivery to Australian environmental decision-makers and other stakeholders.
The Australian Government has contributed funding to the Weed Warriors program. Weed Warriors is a national program for schools, administered and supported by national and state/territory coordinators.
As Weed Warriors, students become involved in the management of a local weed problem when they join with land managers and community groups to implement a biological control program for a regional priority weed. The Weed Warriors program is adaptive to all levels of education. However the program is most often targeted at grades 3 to 6 in primary schools and years 7 to 9 in secondary schools.
Managing Commonwealth land
The Australian Government manages Commonwealth lands, such as defence establishments and Commonwealth national parks, and is responsible for weed management on this land.
The Department of Defence is responsible for managing weeds on the land under its responsibility. The Department of Defence has a Defence Environment Policy and a Defence Environmental Strategic Plan to guide environmental management actions.
Parks Australia has responsibility for Commonwealth parks and reserves including areas located on external island territories and within Australian waters beyond the state limit of three nautical miles. Three of the six Commonwealth National Parks, namely Kakadu, Uluru and Booderee, are managed jointly with their Aboriginal Traditional Owners. Each protected area has a Management Plan which includes weeds management. Reducing the impact of weeds in native vegetation may be an important strategy for reducing the impact of climate change and for recovering populations of threatened species in protected areas.
The state and territory governments also have a range of programs, policies and legislation to meet their responsibilities for weed management.
Local governments have different land and weed management responsibilities dependent on which state or territory they are in. In some states, local governments are responsible for planning, coordinating and monitoring noxious weed control.
Local governments may have local weed strategies and community weed management programs in place. They also have a role in weed management on their own land.
Your local government is often a useful source for information on which weeds are a problem in your area. Please contact your local government, or check their website, for information on local weed issues, or weed management responsibilities in your area.