The role of DBCA’s Parks and Wildlife Service in managing weeds (invasive plants) is to:
- Minimise the impacts of weeds on biodiversity, especially on threatened flora, fauna and ecological communities which are most vulnerable to their impacts.
- Minimise the impact of weeds on cultural heritage sites, the amenity of public recreation areas and the aesthetic appeal of our natural environment for the appreciation and benefit of current and future generations.
- Minimise the impact of weeds on fire behaviour and fire regimes through hazard mitigation strategies and utilise opportunities to undertake post-fire weed control to facilitate regeneration of native species.
- Minimise the spread of priority weeds onto lands adjacent to Parks and Wildlife Service-managed lands.
What are weeds?
As defined by the department’s Weed Management Policy:
Weeds are plants (not necessarily non-native) that grow in sites where they are not wanted, and which have undesirable environmental or economic impacts, or both.
Weeds can reduce biodiversity, or adversely affect the integrity, conservation value and processes of ecosystems. They do this by, among other things:
- successfully out-competing native species for resources including available nutrients, water, space and sunlight
- replacing the native plants that animals use for shelter, food and nesting
- impacting on native plants or animals due to toxins or excluding animals from usual habitats because of thorns or other adverse habit
- providing habitat for introduced animal pests
- altering fire regimes, potentially making fires more intense, and possibly altering their seasonality and frequency
Characteristics of invasive weeds
Both introduced and native plants have the potential to become weeds, if they have certain 'invasive' characteristics including:
- Large volumes of seed
The production of large volumes of viable seed which may remain dormant in the soil for many years
- Effective dispersal mechanisms
The use of spikes, hooks, wings or animal-attracting fruit to aid their dispersal
- Rapid seedling growth and establishment
The ability for seedlings to rapidly grow and establish in areas, out-competing other plants
- Vegetative reproduction or regeneration
The ability to regenerate or reproduce vegetatively
- Disturbance invaders
The ability to invade recently disturbed lands such as road verges and gravel pits
The ability to release self-protecting toxins that interfere with the growth of surrounding plants
How to identify weeds
Weed identification procedures
- Try and identify the plant yourself using available resources (see suggested resources below)
- Ask an expert:
- Talk to people experienced in weed management within your local area, including local subject matter experts
- Search Florabase using the Search the Western Australian Flora page
- Contact the Pest and Disease Information Service
- Consult social media groups/forums such as the Weeds of Western Australia Facebook Group
- Use the MyPestGuide app to quickly identify pests and report your observations instantly to the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD)
- If you still can’t identify the plant, go to the WA Herbarium webpage for information on collecting and providing specimens to the Herbarium
- If you think the weed you have found is a declared plant, contact the Pest and Disease Information Service or report it using the MyPestGuide Reporter app
There are many resources available to help you identify weeds and native plants.
Books and print
- ‘Western Weeds: A guide to the weeds of Western Australia’ Second Edition by B.M.J. Hussey et al. (2007) The Weeds Society of WA (Inc). (currently out of print)
- ‘Weeds of the south-east: an identification guide for Australia’ Third Edition by F.J. Richardson et al. (2016) CSIRO Publishing. (Purchase this and other weed resources online: Weed Information.)
- ‘Bushland Weeds: A practical guide to their management’ by K Brown and K. Brooks (2002). Environmental Weeds Action Network (Inc).
- ‘Botanical Field Guide. New and Improved 5th Edition’ by S. Mager (2007). Aracaria Biodynamic Farm.
Identification software available either online or as apps or CD.
- Environmental Weeds Australia - Apps available on Apple Store (IOS) and Google Play (Android)
- Wattles Acacias of Australia
- These and other identification keys are available at Lucidcentral.org
Western Australian Herbarium online database for distribution of native and introduced (alien) plants across Western Australia
Atlas of Living Australia
An on-line resource containing information on all the known species in Australia aggregated from a wide range of data providers: museums, herbariums, community groups, government departments, individuals and universities
Australia’s Virtual Herbarium
An on-line botanical information resource providing access to data in each of Australia’s nine herbaria
Australian Plant Name Index
A tool that deals with plant names and their usage. Useful for translating a plant’s common name into its scientific name
Australian Plant Census
A database of accepted scientific names for both native and introduced vascular flora of Australia
Weeds of Australia identification tool (Queensland Government)
Identification tool containing 1021 weeds
Weeds of Australia Fact Sheet Index (Queensland Government)
Website containing fact sheets for over 1000 weeds
A tool to assist in identifying weeds. Please note the information is intended as a guide only. Flowering and seeding times and foliage or flower colours may vary due to seasonal or local variability
A global online community for naturalists which provides a species occurrence recording tool and a crowdsourced species identification system
What can you do to help stop weeds?
How are weeds spread?
Weeds are spread by:
- wind and water
- domestic, feral and native animals
- through weed-infested products such as soil and manure
- pot plants from markets and fetes
- purchasing seed from mail order catalogues
- inappropriate disposal of unwanted plant material, including the disposal of unwanted aquarium plants in drains/waterways and garden waste in bushland
- people directly on their clothing, camping equipment, vehicles and machinery.
How can you help?
Weed management requires coordination among all levels of government in partnership with industry, land and water managers and the community, regardless of tenure.
- Check all clothing, animals, vehicles, boats, trailers, caravans, camping gear and other equipment for weeds
- remove all plant material and seeds and wash or brush down equipment
- pay special attention to the undercarriage and tyres of vehicles
- Bag and dispose of garden waste responsibly
- Ask your nursery for soil and landscaping materials that are free of weed seed
- Choose nursery plants that are local native species or plants of low weed risk
- Use the Nursery and Garden Industry Australia (NGIA) Grow Me Instead resources or refer to the Water Corporation's Waterwise Plant Search
For more detailed information on how you can help refer to the Weeds in Australia website.
How to control weeds
Weed control methods
There are many methods available to manage the impact of weeds:
- Weed prevention is the most effective method of dealing with weeds.
- Early detection and eradication of invasions are needed before they become too widespread and control becomes technically and/or financially impossible.
- Biological control: releasing a weed's native natural enemy such as insects, grazing animals or disease.
- Physical control: removing weeds by mowing, mulching, tilling, burning, grazing or by hand.
- Chemical control: using chemicals, such as herbicides.
- Integrated weed management: using a range of the above control measures.
- Ongoing maintenance is an important aspect of the success of any weed control. The lack of ongoing maintenance can often be the major cause of failure in weed control programs.
Chemical weed control
The following are requirements when planning a chemical weed control program.
- All chemicals must be used in accordance with the label specifications and be accompanied by the appropriate Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS).
- Seek advice from your local chemical supplier.
- If you wish to use a chemical at a different rate to that recommended on the label or apply chemicals to species not listed on the label, refer to one of the minor use permits below (see Minor Use Permits).
- If the species is not listed on Minor Use Permit # 13333, # 13236 or # 82305, contact the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority for more information.
- Consider how you will manage spray drift and non-target damage.
- Consider Occupational Health and Safety factors, particularly in relation to appropriate training and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
- Consider your legal requirements in relation to chemical use, pollution and native vegetation. When undertaking weed control in bushland areas that contain Threatened Flora and Threatened Ecological Communities, you must apply for a permit.
- If conducting control near waterways, refer to the Herbicides: guidelines for use in and around water(270KB PDF).
- For more information, refer to Herbicides: knowing when and how to use them(197KB PDF).
Minor use permits
Minor Use Permit # 13333 - This permit allows persons to use products in the manner specified in the permit in designated jurisdictions and for specific species.
Minor Use Permit # 13236 – This permit allows persons to use products in the manner specified in the permit in designated jurisdictions for the control of declared plants in Western Australia.
Minor Use Permit # 82305 - This permit allows persons to use products in the manner specified in the permit in designated jurisdictions for the control of mesquite in rangelands in Western Australia.
Note – always ensure you check the expiry date of the permit.
Weed control resources
- ‘Bushland Weeds: A practical guide to their management’ by K Brown and K. Brooks (2002). Environmental Weeds Action Network (Inc).
- Southern Weeds and their control by Moore, J.H. & Wheeler, J. (Bulletin 4744)
- Swan Weeds Database on the most problematic environmental weeds in the region.
- ‘Managing Weeds. AgGuide. A Practical Handbook’ by D. Bayley and D. Bower (2013). NSW Department of Primary Industries.
- ‘Conservation action planning handbook’ by The Nature Conservancy (2006). Arlington, VA.
- ‘Integrated Pest Management Overview’ by University of Delaware (2017).
- Herbicides: knowing when and how to use them 197.3 KB. CRC for Australian Weed Management (2005).
How does Parks and Wildlife Service manage weeds?
Prioritisation process for weed management
Parks and Wildlife Service’s species-led prioritisation process assesses weeds in each region based on:
- ecological impact
- current distribution
- potential distribution
- feasibility of control
The resulting priorities focus on weeds considered to be high impact, rapidly invasive and still at a population size that can feasibly be eradicated or contained to a manageable size.
This means that weed species which are already widespread are not ranked as a high priority through this species-led process.
The next stage of the process identifies high value biodiversity assets, the weeds that pose a threat to these assets, and the sites where control will have the greatest benefit and cost effectiveness. Social, cultural and economic assets as well as good neighbour issues are considered at a later stage of the process.
See Weed Prioritisation Process(135KB PDF) for further details on the context and methodology of the process, including how each weed was scored.
Summaries of the species ecological impact and invasiveness rankings are provided here to help other landholders, community groups and private enterprises manage weeds that might impact on the natural environment.
Ranking summary results by Parks and Wildlife Service region
Species-led ecological impact and invasiveness ranking summary results by region. The following Excel documents can be sorted by columns to find the information you require.
- Goldfields Impact and Invasiveness Ratings(27KB XLSX)
- Kimberley Impact and Invasiveness Ratings(30KB XLSX)
- Midwest Impact and Invasiveness Ratings(33KB XLSX)
- Pilbara Impact and Invasiveness Ratings(27KB XLSX)
- South Coast Impact and Invasiveness Ratings(37KB XLSX)
- South West Impact and Invasiveness Ratings(42KB XLSX)
- Swan Impact and Invasiveness Ratings(73KB XLSX)
- Warren Impact and Invasiveness Ratings(30KB XLSX)
- Wheatbelt Impact and Invasiveness Ratings(34KB XLSX)
Notes on using the ranking summaries
Some species that are native to specific regions of Western Australia occur on these prioritisation lists as they have shown 'weedy' tendencies outside their natural range, such as on islands in the Pilbara region.
The prioritisation for individual weeds within a Parks and Wildlife Service region should be treated as a guide and does not diminish any other requirements of land managers or developers, such as declared plants requirements of the Biosecurity and Agriculture Management Act 2007 or Ministerial requirements under Part IV of the Environmental Protection Act 1986.
Further weed management resources
Parks and Wildlife Service policies and legislation including the Weed Management Policy and Good Neighbour Policy can be found on the policies and legislation page.
For information on weeds in specific marine and terrestrial parks and reserves refer to the Parks and Wildlife Service management plans.
Other important strategies and documents
- Environmental Weed Strategy for Western Australia(287KB PDF)
- A Global Compendium of Weeds - 3rd Edition(67MB PDF)
- The Introduced Flora of Australia and Its Weed Status - This publication provides information about the weed potential of plants to help people to make responsible decisions on the types of plants they use in the future.
- Western Australian Organism List (WAOL) - Publishes the status of organisms declared under the Biosecurity and Agriculture Management Act. You can also search for an organism and its legal status.
- Weeds Australia - Website for the Weeds of National Significance (WoNS), providing information on WoNS strategies, resources and comments.
- Weeds in Australia - Australian Government website bringing together national weed species and weed management information and linking that with state and territory websites.
- National Landcare Program - The National Landcare Program is a key part of the Australian Government’s commitment to protect and conserve Australia’s water, soil, plants, animals and ecosystems, as well as support the productive and sustainable use of these valuable resources.
- Urban Nature - Publications and proceedings of workshops on environmental weed biology, control and management with a focus on native plant communities of south west WA, plus other useful resources.
- The Weeds Society of WA Inc - A professional organisation that brings together research scientists, extension officers, consultants, company representatives, conservationists, other practitioners and members of the public who have an interest in weed management.
- Local Biodiversity Program - Resources developed under the Local Biodiversity Program.
- Roadside Conservation and Roadside Conservation Committee - Contains information relating to the conservation of roadside vegetation and the principles and membership of the Roadside Conservation Committee.
- Natural Resource Management (NRM) in Western Australia - The State NRM Program team is responsible for coordinating and supporting the delivery of the Western Australian Government State Natural Resource Management (NRM) Program.
- Environs Kimberley - Independent community environmental organisation working to protect the nature and culture of the Kimberley region.
- Australia’s Invasive Species Council - The introduced flora of Australia and its weed status - This publication lists every introduced plant species in Australia, past and present, with information on its weedy status here and worldwide.
- State of the Environment Report 2007: Biodiversity – Weeds
- NatureMap - Mapping Western Australia’s biodiversity. Produce maps, lists and reports of WA's flora and fauna diversity including naturalised plants.
WA Regional NRM groups
- Perth Region NRM
- Wheatbelt NRM
- South West Catchments Council
- South Coast NRM
- Northern Agricultural Catchments Council
- Rangelands NRM Western Australia
Weed alert species
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