To a gardener, a farmer or a botanist, a weed may mean different things, but broadly it is a plant growing outside its natural environment and having some sort of adverse impact. The majority of weeds have come from overseas but some Australian naïve plants may also become weedy outside their natural range.
Whatever a plant’s origin, they spread ‘like weeds’ when they arrive in a favourable environment, often because they have left their natural pests behind.
Declared noxious weeds have been proclaimed under the Noxious Weeds Act 1993. There is a legal requirement on landholders to control noxious weeds. The species listed may vary in different parts of NSW. A list of weeds declared noxious in the Bega Valley can be found on the Department of Primary Industries website.
The Act outlines landholders’ obligations to control weeds and the penalties for failure to do so.
The Department of Primary Industries is responsible for:
Council's duties include:
Environmental weeds are plants that invade native vegetation and may replace native plants and cause loss of habitat for native animals. Some environmental weeds have been declared noxious, but most have not and there is no obligation to control them.
Some native plants may behave in a weedy manner because of changes to land management such as clearing of forest or changes in frequency of burning.
Many garden plants are ideally suited to becoming ‘garden escapees’ threatening the environment, having been selected for their ease of growing, spectacular flowers, fruit or nuts and hardiness
It is important to understand that an environmental weed may cause as much or more harm to the environment as a noxious weed. It is just not listed as a noxious weed.
The huge financial cost to agriculture of weeds and weed control is well known but the impact of weeds on natural vegetation has only recently been widely recognised. Weed invasion is one of the greatest threats to some types of native vegetation, particularly when that vegetation is close to towns and agricultural land.
Weeds may come to dominate an environment, preventing regeneration of native vegetation, impacting on areas set aside for conservation and reducing native animal and bird habitat. They can increase fuel loads, making areas more fire-prone, and can even change the soil so that native plants can no longer survive there.
The Weeds Action Program is a five year project with Department of Primary Industries and South Coast Councils in partnership with other key stakeholders to reduce the impact of weeds along the NSW South Coast.
The program identifies weed risks at all levels and acts to effectively manage those risks, provided education and awareness programs to increase community capacity to manage weeds and enabled the provision of weed-related information developing and publishing electronic and hard copy information.
Coastal weeds threaten our unique coastal vegetation communities, particularly near urban and other populated areas.
Several coastal weeds and associated rehabilitation projects have been running for a number of years. Partners include: local Landcare, Dunecare and other community groups, Local Aboriginal Land Councils, Far South Coast Councils, Southern Rivers Catchment Management Authority, National Parks and Wildlife Service, the Department of Primary Industries Crown Lands Division and extends south along the Gippsland coast in Victoria.
The Coastal Weeds Project is linked to a number of other projects which include weed management, dune rehabilitation, native vegetation restoration, riparian and estuary restoration, protection of the endangered Little Tern and rehabilitation of coastal littoral rainforest, a Boneseed control program among other programs.
Key to involving the community is an extensive education and awareness program with community activities and Field Days along with development of information displays and flyers.
Fact Sheets have been developed to provide easy access to information on noxious and environmental weeds, including identified high risk garden plants.
Available from your local coastal Council