The Environment Centre NT is working to prevent the introduction of new weeds into the Territory, urging the strategic eradication of infestations, seeking stronger weed management laws and compliance enforcement, and much greater support for on-ground management.
Weeds, or invasive plants, are a key threat to the wildlife and ecosystems of the Territory.
Weeds occur across all of the Territory’s landscapes and tenures, including urban streets, pastoral leases, National Parks, Crown lands, Aboriginal Lands and mineral leases.
Weeds can transform whole landscapes by choking rivers or wetlands, smothering trees causing branches to snap off, replacing woodlands with grasslands dominated by African grasses, and by cooking the native vegetation and wildlife because of the massive fuels loads from dense weed infestations.
Weeds also poison stock, and increase carbon pollution from hotter, larger and more frequent fires.
The spread of weeds undermines many other important environment and natural resource management initiatives.
We support the use of the Weed Risk Assessment process developed by weed experts in the Natural Resources and Environment Department, Resources Department and Charles Darwin University. This process enables the weediness of a species to be objectively assessed, its impacts quantified where feasible, and feasibility of control.
The Environment Centre NT seeks all invasive plants introduced to the Territory which are evaluated under the Weed Risk Assessment to pose a high or very high weed risk to be declared weeds under the Weed Management Act (NT) and banned from sale or deliberate spread.
We support the Targets and Management Actions in the Integrated Natural Resource Management Plan for the Northern Territory regarding weeds, such as controlling priority weeds at a catchment scale, strategic control of Mimosa, and aiming to eradicate Prickly Acacia form the Victoria River catchment.
Some of the worst weeds were introduced by governments, cattlemen and the CSIRO to raise pastoral production, such as gamba grass, buffel grass, Olive hymenchne and para grass.
The Environment Centre NT nominated the invasion of Australia’ tropical savannas by the African species gamba grass as a key threatening under the federal Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act in 2005. This led to an independent committee of threatened species experts advising the federal Environment Minister to declare five pasture grasses as a key threatening process. These species are gamba grass, para grass, Oliver hymenachne, and perennial and annual mission grass. The Minister did so in 2010 and released a draft Threat Abatement Plan for these five species in mid 2011.
In the next few years the Environment Centre NT hopes to secure the declaration of key weeds such as para grass and Acacia mangium as weeds under the Weed Management Act. We will also seek to strengthen the Act and gamba grass plan of management.
Working with other environment organisations and weed researchers, we will also advocate for the draft Threat Abatement Pan to be made stronger and to be well funded.