Pesticides vital to curb invasive species

    22 November 2021

    Australia’s unique natural environment is constantly at risk from invasive weeds and other pests. Like farmers, Australia’s environmental land managers – such as the parks and wildlife services – rely on the use of modern pesticides to best care for our natural environment.

    Invasive weeds, insects and other pests can have major negative impacts on Australia’s natural environment as they damage the diversity and balance of ecosystems. Many native species are becoming increasingly rare or threatened in their native ecosystems as they compete with weeds for space, moisture, nutrients and sunlight.

    In 2020, the Invasive Species Council’s report Glyphosate: A Chemical to Understand highlighted that herbicides offer the only effective option for removing invasive weeds from Australia’s bushland reserves and that, without them, most of the remaining indigenous vegetation in Australia would decline in both quantity and quality.* A more recent study by researchers at the CSIRO and Flinders University demonstrated that invasive plants are the priciest pests in Australia, costing $200 billion since 1960.*

    In the Australian Capital Territory alone, there are nearly 5,500 sites where management of invasive species and habitat restoration is underway.* This comprises over 13,000ha of area undergoing protection and enhancement.

    At least 13 different selective and nonselective herbicides and combinations are being used to manage the populations of invasive species and provide weed-free areas for natural species to establish.

    Continued innovation in pesticide products will only serve to aid efforts in preserving and restoring Australia’s natural habitat and manage the spread of invasive species, while improving the ecological footprint and safety of the products used.

    In the heart of the Nation’s Capital, Canberra, lives a microcosm of the fight to protect and restore rare and threatened native species.

    A litany of rare and threatened plant species like Burchardia umbellata (Milkmaids), Calotis lappulacea (Yellow burr daisy) call a hill behind Parliament House home.

    Volunteers from Red Hill Regenerators use a variety of pesticide control options to manage invasive blackberry, St John’s Wort, African lovegrass, Chilean needlegrass and Patterson’s Curse creating safe spaces for the native flora and fauna to thrive.

     

    * Glyphosate: A chemical to understand. Invasive Species Council, 2020. https://invasives.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/Glyphosate-A-Chemical-to-Understand.pdf
    * Detailed assessment of the reported economic costs of invasive species in Australia, 2021. Corey J. A. Bradshaw and others. https://doi.org/10.3897/neobiota.67.58834
    * 2019-20 Invasive Plant Control ACT Public Land | Operations Dashboard for ArcGIS. Viewed 30 September 2021. 2019-20 Invasive Plant Control (arcgis.com)