Environment groups have welcomed the draft report released today by the NSW Natural Resources Commission (NRC) into weed management as a ‘game changer’ in helping to rein in one of the state’s worst and most difficult environmental threats.
The Invasive Species Council, the National Parks Association of NSW and the Nature Conservation Council of NSW strongly endorse NRC recommendations to require risk assessment of new plant introductions into NSW, impose a general ‘biosecurity obligation’ for all stakeholders, establish a fund for eradications of new high-risk incursions, and rebuild weed research capacity.
“One standout recommendation is to implement a safe list (permitted list) approach to new plant introductions, which would require risk assessment of plants not on the list,” Invasive Species Council policy officer Dr Carol Booth said today.
“This is essential to prevent new weeds, which are establishing at an average rate of seven a year.”
CEO of the National Parks Association of NSW Kevin Evans said minimising weed risk was up to everyone.
“Creating a general ‘biosecurity obligation’ for all stakeholders recognises that there is no way of legislating against all actions that cause weed risk and that everyone should take responsibility to minimise weed risk,” he said.
“Currently, greater penalties apply for littering than for spreading some very serious weeds.”
Nature Conservation Council of NSW Chairperson Don White also welcomed the recommendations.
“We welcome recommendations to improve the process of weed declarations in NSW,” he said.
The groups are encouraging the NSW Government to give high priority to implementing the NRC recommendations.
Important changes recommended by the NRC include:
- Implementing a ‘permitted list’ for sale of plants within NSW, starting with aquatic plants and transitioning to all species within five years.
- Creating a general biosecurity obligation that requires all stakeholders to take all reasonable and practical measures to minimise biosecurity risks.
- A tenure-neutral approach to weed management.
- A reserve fund for responding to new high-risk incursions.
- Improved transparency around weed declarations.
- Strengthening enforcement.
- Rebuilding and maintaining NSW weeds research capacity.
Good work is already being done by landholders, local government, volunteers and the NSW Government to reduce the impact of weeds.
The NRC recommendations will better support this work with smarter investment in prevention and control.
Carol Booth, Invasive Species Council: 0448 868 984
Kevin Evans, National Parks Association of NSW: 0457 797 977
Don White, NSW Nature Conservation Council: 0410 667 282
1. A review of weedy plants in Australia by Downey P, Scanlon T and Hosking J (2010). Prioritising Alien Plant Species Based on Their Ability to Impact on Biodiversity: A Case Study from New South Wales. Plant Protection Quarterly 25(3): 111-126.