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).

  1. African boxthorn
  2. asparagus weeds
  3. alligator weed
  4. athel pine
  5. bellyach bush
  6. bitou bush/boneseed
  7. blackberry
  8. bridal creeper
  9. brooms
  10. cabomba
  11. cat’s claw creeper
  12. Chilean needle grass
  13. fireweed
  14. gamba grass
  15. gorse
  16. hymenachne
  17. lantana
  18. Madeira vine
  19. mesquite
  20. mimosa
  21. opuntioid cacti
  22. parkinsonia
  23. parthenium weed
  24. pond apple
  25. prickly acacia
  26. rubber vine
  27. sagittaria
  28. salvinia
  29. serrated tussock
  30. silverleaf nightshade
  31. water hyacinth
  32. willows

Many of these WONS have their own management manuals and guides. More detailed information about these WONS and their Manuals can be found via 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.

Distribution and Description of Agents

A national site for recording the distribution of weed biological control agents is available at Biocollect. This website aims to centralise information on the known distribution, availability and redistribution methods of weed biological control agents in south eastern Australia. This enables land managers and community groups seeking agents to identify sources of supply and apply appropriate redistribution techniques.

Target species

The table below lists the target weed species approved for biological control by the Australian Weeds Committee (AWC) (prior to February 1983 and from March 2009) and the Natural Resource Management Standing Committee or its predecessors (February 1983 to February 2009) or under the Biological Control Act 1984. A link to the procedure for determining candidate weed species and/or control agents for biological control is at the bottom of this page.

In March 2009 the National Biosecurity Committee advised that AWC is to conduct the whole process and that Natural Resource Management Standing Committee approval is no longer required.

Please note this table has not been updated since 2014, so care should be taken when referencing it.

Scientific Name Common Name Approved By Approved At Date Applicant
Ageratina riparia mistflower AWC 22/8/83 Qld Dept of Lands
Andredera cordifolia (Ten.) Steenis madeira vine NRMSC (13) OOS 13/02/2007 Qld Dept of Natural Resources & Mines
Ambrosia artemisiifolia annual ragweed AWC 22/8/83 Qld Dept of Lands
Asparagus asparagoides bridal creeper SCA (147) Nelson (NZ) 12/02/1991 CSIRO Entomology
Bryophyllum delagoense mother-of-millions SCARM (18) OOS June 2001 Queensland Dept of Natural Resources and Mines
Bryophyllum delagoense x B. diagremontianum hybrid mother-of-millions SCARM (18) OOS June 2001 Queensland Dept of Natural Resources and Mines
Cabomba caroliniana cabomba NRMSC (12) Canberra 2/11/2006 CSIRO Entomology
Carduus nutans nodding or musk thistle SCA (136) Hobart 5-6/2/86 CSIRO
Div Entomology
Carduus
pycnocephalus
shore or slender thistle SCA (136) Hobart 5-6/2/86 CSIRO
Div Entomology
Carduus tenuiflorus shore, Italian, sheep or
winged slender thistle
SCA (136) Hobart 5-6/2/86 CSIRO
Div Entomology
Carduus thoermeri nodding thistle SCA (136) Hobart 5-6/2/86 CSIRO
Div Entomology
Chromolaena odorata Siam Weed AWC 21 Canberra 31/08/2010 Dept of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation
Chrysanthemoides monilifera
spp monilifera
boneseed SCA (136) Hobart 5-6/2/86 NPWS, NSW
Chrysanthemoides monilifera
spp rotundata
bitou bush (NSW)
boneseed (Qld)
SCA (136) Hobart 5-6/2/86 NPWS, NSW
Cirsium arvense
(L) Scop.
perennial thistle SCA (141) Fremantle 21/2/88 PPC
Cirsium vulgare
(Salvi) Ten.
spear thistle SCA (141) Fremantle 21/2/88 PPC
Clidemia hirta Kostre’s curse AWC29 OOS 30/4/2014 Qld Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry
Cylindropuntia spp. cholla cacti AWC 27 Out of Session 13/6/2013 NSW Dept of Primary Industries
Cylindropuntia rosea Hudson Pear NBC 2 Out of Session 24/12/2008 NSW Dept of Primary Industries
Echium plantagineum Paterson’s curse,
salvation Jane
BCA, 1985 +agents Gazette
No. 170
6/11/87  
Eichhornia crassipes water hyacinth AAC (95) 31/1/76 Working Panel
Euphorbia paralias sea spurge AWC 21 Canberra 31/08/2010 CSIRO & Dept of Primary Industries, Parks, Water & Environment
Genista linifolia flax-leaved broom SCARM (12) Broome 29/7/98 DPIR, SA
Genista
monspessulana
cape broom SCARM (12) Broome 29/7/98 DPIR, SA
Genista stenopetala madeira broom SCARM (12) Broome 29/7/98 DPIR, SA
Heliotropum amplexicaule blue heliotrope SCARM (18) OOS June 2001 CSIRO
Div Entomology and NSW Agriculture
Homeria flaccida cape tulips SCARM (13) Adelaide 3/3/99 Agriculture WA
Homeria miniata cape tulips SCARM (13) Adelaide 3/3/99 Agriculture WA
Jatropha curcas physic-nut SCARM (13) Adelaide 3/3/99 DPIF NT
Jatropha gossypifolia bellyache bush SCARM (13) Adelaide 3/3/99 DPIF NT
Macfadyena unguis-cati cat’s claw creeper NRMSC (9) Adelaide 11/3/2005 Queensland Dept of Natural Resources and Mines
Marrubium vulgare horehound SCA (147) Nelson NZ 12-13/2/91 PPC
Miconia calvescens Miconia AWC29 OOS 30/4/2014 Qld Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry
Mikania micrantha Mikania AWC29 OOS 30/4/2014 Qld Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry
Mimosa invisa giant sensitive plant SCA (129) Port Moresby 27-29/7/83 PPC
Myrsiphyllum
asparagoides
bridal creeper SCA (147) Nelson NZ 12-13/2/91 PPC
Nassella neesiana Chilean needle grass NRMSC (10) Sydney 19/9/05 VIC
Nassella trichotoma serrated tussock SCARM (12) Broome 29/7/98 NSW
Agriculture
Onopordum
acanthium
 L.
Scotch thistle SCA (141) Fremantle 21/2/88 PPC
Onopordum acaulon L. stemless thistle SCA (141) Fremantle 21/2/88 PPC
Onopordum
illyricum
 L.
Illyrian thistle SCA (141) Fremantle 21/2/88 PPC
Onopordum
tauricum
 Willd.
Taurian thistle SCA (141) Fremantle 21/2/88 PPC
Opuntia robusta wheel cactus Approved NRMSC15 OOS 18/4/08 Dept of Water, Land and Biodiversity Conservation (SA)
Parkinsonia aculeata Parkinsonia AWC 22/8/83 Qld Dept of Lands
Phyla cansescens lippia NRMSC (12) Canberra 2/11/2006 CSIRO Entomology & NSW Dept of Environment & Conservation
Prosopis spp. mesquites SCA (147) Nelson NZ 12-13/2/91 PPC
Reseda lutea L. cutleaf mignonette SCARM (5) Melbourne 20-21/2/95 APPC
Reseda luteola L. wild mignonette SCARM (5) Melbourne 20-21/2/95 DPI, SA
Reseda phyteuma L. rampion mignonette SCARM (5) Melbourne 20-21/2/95 SARDI
Rubus fruticosus L. blackberry BCA, 1985
no agents
Gazette
No. 119
22/7/85  
Rumex acetosella sorrel SCA (129) Port Moresby 27-29/7/83 PPC
Rumex conglomeratus clustered dock SCA (129) Port Moresby 27-29/7/83 PPC
Rumex crispus curled dock SCA (129) Port Moresby 27-29/7/83 PPC
Rumex obtusifolius broad leaved dock SCA (129) Port Moresby 27-29/7/83 PPC
Rumex pulcher fiddle dock SCA (129) Port Moresby 27-29/7/83 PPC
Senecia
madagascariensis
fireweed SCA (147) Nelson NZ 12-13/2/91 PPC
Senna obtusifolia sicklepod AWC 22/8/83 Qld Dept of Lands
Sida acuta spinyhead sida SCA (134) Melbourne 6-8/2/85 PPC
Sida cordifolia flannel weed SCA (134) Melbourne 6-8/2/85 APPC
Silyburn marianum
(L) J. Gaertn.
variegated thistle SCA (141) Fremantle 21/2/88 PPC
Solanum
elaeagnifolium
silverleaf nightshade SCA (136) Hobart 5-6/2/86 DCFL, Vic
Sporobolus africanus Parramatta grass NRMSC (14) OOS 01/08/2007 Qld Dept of Natural Resources & Mines
Sporobolus fertilis giant Parramatta grass NRMSC (14) OOS 01/08/2007 Qld Dept of Natural Resources & Mines
Sporobolus jacquemontii American rats tail grass NRMSC (14) OOS 01/08/2007 Qld Dept of Natural Resources & Mines
Sporobolus natalensis giant rat tail grass NRMSC (14) OOS 01/08/2007 Qld Dept of Natural Resources & Mines
Sporobolus pyramidalis giant rats tail grass NRMSC (14) OOS 01/08/2007 Qld Dept of Natural Resources & Mines
Tribulus terrestris caltrop SCA (143) Melbourne 7-8/2/89  
Ulex europaeus L. gorse, furze SCARM (6) Sydney 31/7/95 DPIF, Tas

Abbreviations

  • AAC=Australian Agricultural Council
  • APCC=Animal and Plant Control Commision (SA)
  • AWC=Australian Weeds Committee
  • BCA=Biological Control Act 1985
  • DCFL=Victorian Department of Conservartion
  • DPI=Department of Primary Industry
  • DPIF=Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries
  • DPIR=Department of Primary Industries and Resources
  • NBC=National Biosecurity Committee
  • NPWS=National Parks and Wildlife Service
  • NRMSC=Natural Resource Management Standing Committee
  • PPC=Plant Production Committee (a subcommittee of SCARM)
  • SARDI=South Australian Research and Delevopment Institute
  • SCA=Standing Committee on Agrticulture
  • SCARM=Standing Committee on Agriculture and Resource Management, Forests and Lands.

There are additional weed biological control programs which pre existed the AWC approval process. Included in this group are prickly pear and lantana programs, where agents were first introduced in 1914.This list is included below. Public interest in these weeds may have changed over the years.

Note: Number in brackets is the meeting number.

The first biological control approved listing was implemented by the Australian Weeds Committee. Following this the NRMSC Procedure for Determining Candidate Weed Species and/or Control Agents for Biological Control was developed.

The current full procedure can be downloaded in PDF format – NRMSC Approved Procedure for Determining Candidate Weed Species and/or Control Agents for Biological Control (90 kb)

Weed Biological Control Programmes in Operation Prior to the Introduction of the Formal Target List

  • Acacia nilotica ssp. Indica, prickly acacia;
  • Acanthocereus pentagonus, sword pear;
  • Ageratina adenophora, crofton weed;
  • Alternanthera philoxeroides, alligator weed;
  • Baccharis halimifolia, groundsel bush;
  • Cryptostegia grandiflora, rubbervine;
  • Cytisus scoparius, broom;
  • Harrisia bonplandii, Harrisia cactus;
  • Harrisia martini, Harrisia cactus;
  • Harrisia tortuosus, Harrisia cactus;
  • Lantana camara, lantana;
  • Lantana montevidensis, creeping lantana
  • Mimosa pigra, mimosa;
  • Opuntia aurantiaca, tiger pear;
  • Opuntia dillenii, spiny pest pear;
  • Opuntia imbricata, rope pear;
  • Opuntia monocantha, drooping tree pear;
  • Opuntia streptacantha, white spine prickly pear;
  • Opuntia stricta, common prickly pear;
  • Opuntia tomentose, velvet tree pear;
  • Parthenium hysterophorus, parthenium weed;
  • Pistia stratiotes, water lettuce;
  • Salvinia molesta, salvinia;
  • Sida rhombifolia, paddy’s lucerne;
  • Xanthium strumarium, noogoora burr;

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.

We will be providing a list of species here imminently, as it is currently being updated.

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.

We will be providing a list of species here imminently, as it is currently being updated.

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.

We will be providing a list of species here imminently, as it is currently being updated.