Government weeds strategies and working groups

The Australian Weeds Strategy (2017-2027) provides a national framework for addressing weed issues whilst maintaining the profitability and sustainability of Australia’s primary industries and the reducing the impact of weeds on the environment.

This strategy is overseen by the inter-jurisdictional Environment and Invasives Committee and its weeds working group.

A number of jurisdictions also have specific Biosecurity or Invasive Species strategies:

  1. ACT Biosecurity Strategy (2016-2026)
  2. NSW Invasive Species Plan (2018-2021)
  3. NT Biosecurity Strategy (2016-2016)
  4. QLD Invasive Plants and Animal Strategy (2019-2024)
  5. WA Biosecurity Strategy

Weeds of National Significance

Thirty two Weeds of National Significance (WoNS) have been identified by Australian governments based on their invasiveness, potential for spread and environmental, social and economic impacts.

A list of 20 WoNS was endorsed in 1999 and a further 12 were added in 2012.

Note that some of  the 32 WoNS are grouped together together as one (e.g. Asparagus weeds, Brooms, Opuntioid cacti, and Bitou bush / Boneseed).

Many of these WONS have their own management manuals and guides.

More information about these WONS and their Manuals can be found in our Weeds Profile section.

Species targeted for biological control

Successful biological control is the most effective way to control most weeds in the long term. Weeds are listed as target species for biological control  through a cross-jurisdictional government process that allows for research on biological control for that weed.

The introduction of a potential biological control agent is separately assessed under the Biosecurity Act 2015 and the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. The assessment involves comprehensive host testing (testing what plants the biological control agent will attack) before release.

Species permitted entry into Australia

There are lists that identify what plant species are permitted entry into Australia. This list can found via this Australian Government website.

Priority list of exotic weeds

The Chief Environmental Biosecurity Officer has released an interim list of priority exotic environmental pests, weeds and diseases.

The Priority List focuses on exotic pests, weeds and diseases that are not established in Australia and that pose the highest risk to our environment and public spaces. This list will be used to enable activities that help prevent the entry, establishment and spread of exotic pests and diseases.

You can find the list here

National Environmental Alert List

The National Environmental Alert List (the Alert List) for environmental weeds identifies 28 plant species that are in the early stages of establishment and have the potential to become a significant threat to biodiversity if they are not managed.

The Alert List complements the Weeds of National Significance (WONS) list, which includes weeds already causing significant agricultural, forestry and environmental damage.

Species were identified for the Alert List based on three criteria:

  • posing a high or serious potential threat to the environment
  • having limited distribution within Australia at present
  • being amenable to successful eradication or containment programs.

Sleeper weeds

Sleeper weeds are plants that appear benign for many years, but which may suddenly spread rapidly following certain natural events such as flood, fire, drought, climate change, or change in land or water management. Sleeper weeds are not always recognised as a significant problem, even though the potential threat they pose to industry, people or the environment may be extreme.

Agricultural sleeper weeds are naturalised exotic plants, that are currently only present in small areas but that have the potential to spread widely and have a major impact on agriculture.

The potential agricultural sleeper weed list complements the Weeds of National Significance list, which includes weeds that are already widespread.

Species targeted for eradication

The National Four Tropical Weeds Eradication program targets:

  • Koster’s Curse (Clidemia hirta)
  • Limnocharis (Limnocharis flava)
  • Mikania Vine (Mikania micrantha)
  • Miconia (Miconia calvescensM. racemosaM. nervosa)

The programme maps and monitors the full distribution of these species, and coordinates activities to eradicate the species from Australia. The programme involves extensive community engagement to:

  • identify infested areas
  • conduct targeted weed surveys for weed control
  • identify research components.

State and territory noxious weed lists

In addition to the national lists above, state and territory governments have their own lists of noxious weeds. The Weeds Australia profiles contains a summary of the state and territory noxious weed legislation and associated lists.