Expert warns action is needed to halt growing weed and pest threat in Australia

Media Release |

Professor Simberloff, the world’s leading thinker on the biology of invasions by weeds, ferals and other pests, is in Hobart, Australia this week to warn of the dangers to Australia’s wildlife from invasive species.

On Tue 2 Sept, Professor Daniel Simberloff of the University of Tennessee (USA) and a member of the US National Academy of Sciences will give the CAWS Oration to the 19th Australasian Weeds Conference. This biennial conference of the Council of Australasian Weed Societies (CAWS) will be held in Hobart this week.

“The Australian environment has suffered major losses due to invasive species”, said Andrew Cox, Invasive Species Council CEO.

“Australia’s notorious record on animal extinctions is due mainly to invasive species.  In the past five years, two more Australian animals have become extinct, almost certainly due to invasive species.”

“A Senate inquiry is currently looking at the ongoing, serious and systemic flaws in environmental biosecurity that have seen repeated arrivals of new invasive species impacting on the environment.

“Recent incursions include crazy ants, fire ants, myrtle rust, Asian honeybees, smooth newts, red-eared sliders, black slugs, black spined toads and Mexican feather grass,” said Mr Cox.

Professor Daniel Simberloff said, “this Senate inquiry is timely and immensely important.”

“Despite  Australia’s reputation for a good biosecurity system and relative freedom from harmful non-native species, from the environmental point of view the situation is nearly the opposite. There is nothing enviable about Australia’s record on environmental biosecurity.

“I encourage the Senate committee to dig deeply to look at how to slow the rate of arrival and establishment of new invasive species into Australia,” said Prof. Simberloff.

“One important initiative that deserves support is the proposal by the Invasive Species Council to create a new entity to bolster Australia’s environment biosecurity with a focus on preparedness and contingency planning.

“The proposed Environment Health Australia would fill a huge gap in Australia’s defences against new invasive species detrimental to the environment, and I hope the Australian Government can act quickly to establish such an institution,” concluded Prof. Simberloff.

More info:

For comment:

Andrew Cox, Invasive Species Council, 0438 588 040  (and to arrange interviews with Prof. Daniel Simberloff)

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