Rangelands NRM Blog, News & Resources

What the new Weeds of National Significance mean to the rangelands

In October/November 2012, Weeds of National Significance (WoNS) Coordinators held a series of workshops across south-west WA to introduce the twelve newly-announced WoNS and gain input into strategic plan development and help to determine how best to deliver strategic outcomes for the new WoNS and weed management in general. A representative from Rangelands NRM attended one of these workshops and we continue to remain in contact with the WoNS coordinators to enable continued collaboration in this process.

Background

The Weeds of National Significance Initiative is a joint initiative between the Commonwealth of Australia and each of the Australian States and Territories. It coordinates national effort against Australia’s worst invasive plants. In 1999, all states and Territories agreed to 20 inaugural WoNS, identified from a list greater than 3,000 non-native naturalised plants in the Australian environment. These Weeds created a threat to human health and safety; pastoral industries; cropping industries; forestry management; water quality and supplies; infrastructure damage; plant communities; cultural values; tourism; the community; recreation and amenities.

Review of WoNS

An independent review in 2007 determined that the nationally strategic approach had been highly successful. A detailed review of all species by the Australian Weeds Committee (AWC) followed in 2009 and 2010 and a three-phased approach was endorsed whereby existing WoNS might be ‘phased down’ due to a reduced need to national coordination, and further species may be nominated.

New WoNS announced

In April 2012, 12 new WoNS were announced. Together, the 32 WoNS, and impact on a diversity of primary industries, natural ecosystems, social amenity and cultural values. The twelve additional WoNS are as follows:

 

WoNS

Species

African boxthorn

Thicket-forming, spiny shrub invading arid rangelands, bushland and coastal ecosystems

Lycium ferocissimum

Asparagus weeds

Perennial, tuberous vines invading sub-tropical and temperate bushland and coastal ecosystems

Asparagus aethiopicus, A. africanus, A. asparagoidesWestern Cape form*, A. declinatus, A. plumosus, A. scandens

(ExcludesA. officinalis,A. racemosus)

Bellyache bush

Toxic, thicket-forming shrubs invading tropical rangeland pastures and riparian ecosystems

Jatropha gossypiifolia

Brooms

Thicket-forming woody legumes invading temperate bushland, forestry and pastures

Genista monspessulana, G. linifolia, Cytisus scoparius

Cat’s claw creeper

A perennial, tuberous vine invading sub-tropical and warm temperate forests and riparian vegetation.

Dolichandra unguis-cati

Fireweed

A toxic, non-palatable, annual forb invasive in pastures

Senecio madagascariensis

Gamba grass

A high biomass, perennial grass invading tropical savannahs

Andropogon gayanus

Madeira vine

A perennial, tuberous vine invading sub-tropical and warm temperate forests and riparian vegetation

Anredera cordifolia

Opuntioid cacti**

Thicket-forming, spiny succulents invading arid rangelands ecosystems

Opuntiaspp.,Cylindropuntiaspp.,Austrocylindropuntiaspp.

(ExcludesO. ficus-indica)

Sagittaria

An emergent, perennial aquatic herb that blocks waterways

Sagittaria platyphylla

Silver leaf nightshade

A deep-rooted, perennial forb invasive in cropping systems

Solanum elaeagnifolium

Water hyacinth

A floating, perennial, aquatic herb that blankets waterways

Eichhornia crassipes

 

 

Eventually, the intention is to phase out species now being effectively managed. Currently no species have been removed from the WoNS list and the AWC  is developing a protocol to guide future decisions about when this should occur on a case by case basis.

How does this affect the rangelands?

Of the twelve newly-announced WoNS, three are of relevance to the rangelands of WA.

  • Bellyache Bush (Jatropha gossypiifolia) – originally introduced to Australia for ornamental and medicinal purposes, the invasive shrub now infests substantial areas of the wet/dry tropics of Queensland, the NT and WA (in Port Hedland, Karratha and areas of the Kimberley). More information on Bellyache Bush features in this eNews.
  • Cat’s Claw Creeper (Dolichandra unguis-cati) – is a vigorous, perennial vine introduced as a garden plant in the 1860s. It is of particular threat because it is able to invade intact, shaded environments, opening them up to invasion by other weedy species. This species is prevalent in tropical and sub-tropical regions of Queensland and NSW has been reported to occur in the Broome region.
  • Gamba Grass (Andropogon gayanus) – a large perennial tussock grass, native to Africa but initially planted in Australia for pasture improvement. This species is found in the Darwin and Katherine regions of the NT and in Cape York Peninsula. A small number of populations exist in the Kimberley region of WA.

The Original WoNS

(*indicates those of significance to the WA rangelands)

CommonName

ScientificName

alligatorweed

Alternantheraphiloxeroides

athelpine

Tamarixaphylla

bitoubush/boneseed

Chrysanthemoidesmonilifera

blackberry

Rubusfruticosusagg.

bridalcreeper

Asparagusasparagoides

cabomba

Cabombacaroliniana

Chileanneedlegrass

Nassellaneesiana

gorse

Ulexeuropaeus

hymenachne

Hymenachneamplexicaulis

lantana

Lantanacamara

*mesquite

Prosopisspp.

*mimosa

Mimosapigra

*Parkinsonia

Parkinsoniaaculeata

partheniumweed

Partheniumhysterophorus

pondapple

Annonaglabra

*pricklyacacia

Acacianiloticaspp.indica

*rubbervine

Cryptostegiagrandiflora

salvinia

Salviniamolesta

serratedtussock

Nassellatrichotoma

Willows except weeping willows, pussy willow and sterile pussy willow

Salixspp.except S.babylonica,S. Xcalodendron and S.Xreichardtiji

For information on the Weeds of National Significance visit the official WoNS website.