The threats posed by the introduced novel biota in this threatening process can be controlled by preventing further introduction and spread into new habitats, eradicating novel biota and rehabilitating the ecosystems where these species have invaded. Many of the novel biota identified as part of this threatening process are already very well established in the Australian landscape, to the extent that they are recognised as Weeds of National Significance. For these species, the goal of management is containment rather than eradication, which is no longer feasible in many cases. As a result, the ecosystem changes induced by these already widely distributed invasive garden plants may be largely irreversible.
Threatened species have the ability to recover from the impacts of novel biota. Local eradications of buffel grass in the Epping Forest National Park in Queensland lead to the re-establishment of native grasses such as kangaroo grass (Themeda triandra). The reintroduction of greater bilbies into areas where rabbits, foxes and cats have been removed resulted in the bilbies successfully recolonising the area and breeding (Mosby and O’Donnell, 2003).
3.3 Current threat abatement actions A number of national and state-based initiatives are in place to address invasive novel biota that have been introduced into Australia, and to prevent further potentially novel biota entering the country. These initiatives are listed below and are instructive when considering the need for a national Threat Abatement Plan.
The Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act1999 (EPBC Act) and the Quarantine Act 1908 regulate the import of live plants and animals into Australia. Under the EPBC Act, the importation of live plants and animals, excluding The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) listed plant and animal specimens, is unregulated, provided it is in accordance with the Quarantine Act. Under the Quarantine Act, plant and animal imports are regulated taking into consideration their pest potential. The Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS) administer the Quarantine Act and Biosecurity Australia undertakes the import risk assessments.
Biosecurity Australia is an Australian Government agency that develops and reviews quarantine policies to protect the environment from exotic pests and diseases. On request, Biosecurity Australia provides advice to the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS) regarding these policies. These Acts are administered by the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities and AQIS respectively. Biosecurity Australia uses the Weed Risk AssessmentSystem (WRAS) as the agreed pre-entry screening method for new plant imports and this is applied to all proposals to import new plant species (seeds, nursery stock or tissue culture) which are not on the permitted list. The WRAS system assesses whether the plant proposed for import possesses certain attributes that could increase the likelihood of it becoming a weed in Australia. Plants that are already present in Australia still require assessment before importation if they are not on the permitted list. Biosecurity Australia also develops and reviews quarantine policies to protect the environment from exotic pests (including weeds) and diseases.
Intergovernmental Agreement on Biosecurity is being negotiated between the Australian and state and territory governments. It is a principle-level agreement, including national goals and objectives, key features and attributes of the national biosecurity system and the plan for implementation. It will also commit governments to work in partnership to improve key aspects of the national biosecurity system, which was formerly part of the AusBIOSEC work.
National Emergency Biosecurity Response Agreement (NEBRA) establishes national emergency response arrangements, including cost-sharing, for exotic pests and disease that primarily impacts the environment and/or social amenity and that are not covered under existing cost-sharing arrangements.
The National Biosecurity Committee provides strategic leadership in managing national approaches to emerging and ongoing biosecurity policy issues across jurisdictions and sectors. All biosecurity issues, including environmental, animal and plant biosecurity issues are considered by the Committee.
Australia’s Biodiversity Conservation Strategy 2010–2020 aims to ensure that biodiversity is healthy, resilient to climate change and valued for its essential contribution to human existence. It recognises invasive species as one of six main threats to biodiversity and provides a broad framework for the implementation of other national strategies.
The Northern Australia Quarantine Strategy (NAQS) addresses quarantine risks such as the potential incursion of weeds, pests and diseases across Northern Australia. The strategy includes domestic monitoring, domestic surveys, quarantine at the border, overseas activities, and work with Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities.
Beale review. In September 2008 this review of Australia’s quarantine and biosecurity called for a new Biosecurity Act to replace the Quarantine Act, which would coordinate Commonwealth and state legislative powers in relation to invasivespecies and their methods of entry into Australia (Beale et al., 2008).
New South Wales Invasive Species Plan 2008–2015 is an eight year plan to improve the management of invasive species in New South Wales. The Plan proposes actions to prevent, contain, and manage invasive species, including weeds, vertebrate and invertebrate animal pests, freshwater and marine aquatic pests.
New South Wales Department of Primary Industries Biosecurity Strategy. This strategy aims to prevent new pests, diseases and weeds from entering Australia and becoming established, and to manage established pests, diseases and weeds to eradicate them where feasible or lessen their impact.
Biosecurity Strategy for Victoria. This strategy covers threats to primary industries, the environment, social amenity and human health, across Victorian public and private land, freshwater and marine habitats, caused by: plant pests and diseases; animal pests and diseases, including diseases that can be transmitted between animals and humans (i.e. zoonoses); and invasive plants and animals.
Queensland Biosecurity Strategy 2009–2014. This strategy aims to prevent exotic pests and diseases from entering, spreading or becoming established in Queensland, ensure significant pests and diseases already in Queensland are contained, suppressed or managed, and contribute to the maintenance of Australia’s favourable national and international reputation for freedom from many pests and diseases, market access for agricultural commodities, product safety and integrity, and diverse ecosystem sustainability.
Draft Biosecurity Strategy South Australia 2009–2014. This strategy will cover threats in all biosecurity sectors, including animal health, aquatic animal health, aquatic pests, plant health, public health, social amenity pests and diseases, terrestrial vertebrate pests, weeds, wildlife health and other terrestrial environmental pests and diseases. This strategy will provide guidance to meet challenges of the future and deliver the level of biosecurity appropriate to protect South Australia's people, natural environments and primary industries.
A: Competition, predation or herbivory and habitat degradation by vertebrate pests A number of national and state-based initiatives are in place to address invasive vertebrate pests that have been introduced into Australia and to prevent further potentially invasive species entering the country. These initiatives are listed below and are instructive when considering the need for a national Threat Abatement Plan.
The Invasive Animals Cooperative Research Centre creates new technologies and integrated strategies to reduce the impact of invasive animals on Australia’s economy, environment, and people. It is concentrated on developing smarter tools to prevent and detect new invasions, advanced and tactical tools to strengthen integrated management strategies of carp and other pest fish, and new tools and integrated management strategies for major pests including foxes, wild dogs, feral pigs, rats and mice, cane toads, feral cats and rabbits.
Australian Pest Animal Strategy 2007. This strategy provides a national framework for managing the impacts of vertebrate pest animal species in Australia. The goals of the strategy are: providing leadership and coordination for management of pest animals; preventing establishment of new pest animals; and managing the impacts of established pest animals. The strategy includes measures to control the natural spread and translocation of pest animals, but not the introduction of native species outside their natural geographic distribution. A group has been established under the Vertebrate Pests Committee (VPC) to oversee implementation and review progress and effectiveness. The strategy aims to identify and develop national plans for the management of Existing Pest Animals of National Significance (EPANS) and make people aware of them.
National Feral Camel Action Plan 2010 has been developed as a plan for an EPANS under the Australian Pest Animal Strategy and aims to providing a strategic and risk based approach upon which local, regional and state based management of feral camels can be undertaken. The Plan will be implemented by Feral Camel Working Group of the Vertebrate Pests Committee
A number of strategies have also been developed to specifically consider issues relating to fish. A Strategic Approach to theManagement of Ornamental Fish in Australia 2008 provides a national framework for regulation and management of the ornamental fish industry in Australia. A key component of this is developing a communication strategy to assist in delivering the objectives, and considering a future work program to address noxious species currently in the ornamental and aquaria fish trade. The National Policy for theTranslocation of Live Aquatic Organisms 1999 reviews different methods of translocation and their associated risk. The National Management Strategy for Carp Control 2000–2005 is focused on the control of carp and, where possible, eradication, in the interest of the total aquatic environment and its biodiversity.
Guidelines for the Import, Movement and Keeping of Exotic Vertebrates in Australia 2004 focus on the development of appropriate strategies to prevent the establishment of new species that pose significant risks to the environment, primary production, or public safety. The adopted approach to managing exotic vertebrates is based on the principles for vertebrate pest management now accepted across Australian jurisdictions.
SA Arid Lands Natural Resource Management Board Pest Management Strategy 2005-2010.
Several states, including New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, Western Australia and South Australia, have developed translocation guidelines under the National Policy for the Translocation of Live Aquatic Organisms 1999.
B: Competition, predation or herbivory and habitat degradation by invertebrate pests There are a number of national and state-based initiatives in place to address invasive invertebrate pests that have been introduced into Australia and to prevent further potentially invasive species entering the country. These initiatives are listed below and are instructive when considering the need for a national Threat Abatement Plan.
The National Fire Ant Eradication Program commenced in 2002 to eradicate the red imported fire ant (Solenopsis invicta) from Queensland. The nationally coordinated program is managed by Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries (DPI&F). Red imported fire ant is an insect pest that is considered to be a threat to lifestyle, the environment and the economy.
The National Electric Ant Eradication Program commenced in 2006 to eradicate electric ant (Wasmannia auropunctata) from Queensland. The nationally coordinated program is managed by Biosecurity Queensland, an agency of the DPI&F. Electric ant is an exotic ant species and is regarded as an environmental pest as it can cause harm to people, as well as their businesses and lifestyle.
Yellow crazy ants in north-east Arnhem Land project aims to eradicate yellow crazy ants from the Gove Peninsula and outlying regions where it interacts with people, and to contain the remaining populations in the region to prevent their spread. To date, yellow crazy ants have been eradicated from at least 20 locations covering over 100 hectares, which is an internationally significant achievement.
African big-headed ants and tropical fire ants on the Tiwi Islandsproject appears to have successfully eradicated African big-headed ant from all four known locations throughout the Tiwi Islands, and is also aiming to eradicate tropical fire ants from an additional three locations.
National and state threat abatement actions
Threat abatement plan to reduce the impacts of tramp ants on biodiversity in Australia and its territories (2006)
C: Competition, habitat loss and degradation caused by terrestrial weeds
D: Competition, habitat loss and degradation caused by aquatic weeds A number of national and state-based initiatives are in place to address invasive terrestrial and aquatic weed species that have been introduced into Australia and to prevent further potentially invasive species entering the country. These initiatives are listed below and are instructive when considering the need for a national Threat Abatement Plan.
Weed Risk Assessment System (WRAS).Plants proposed to be introduced into Australia are now assessed for their potential to become weeds through the Weed Risk Assessment System (WRAS). The assessment is based on the plant’s attributes, its potential invasiveness and probability of negatively impacting on the environment.
Australian Weed Strategy 2007 provides guidance to all stakeholders involved in weed management and identifies priorities for weed management across Australia. The goals of the strategy are: preventing new weed problems; reducing the impact of existing priority weed problems; and enhancing Australia's capacity and commitment to solve weed problems. Under the strategy, priority is given to control and management of 20 plant species identified as Weeds of National Significance. A national strategy and a Weeds Management Guide have been produced for each Weed of National Significance. The Australian Weeds Committee, which reports to the Natural Resource Management Ministerial Council, supports the implementation of the Australian Weeds Strategy by facilitating and coordinating consistent national action on weed tasks.
The National Weeds Awareness Action Plan focuses on improving awareness as a prerequisite to achieving acceptable long-term management of weeds. The key outcome of the plan is a weeds awareness program that increases whole-of-community and government understanding of the invasive plant crisis. ‘Nursery and Landscape’ is one of the target groups highlighted in the plan and key stakeholders identified in the plan that would play an important role in abating the KTP include Australian National Botanic Gardens, Greening Australia, Horticulture Australia and Nursery and Garden Industry Australia. Investment under the action plan over the last decade has contributed to heightened awareness and increased capacity to manage weed issues, primarily through community group participation in the Weedbuster campaign and the development of awareness products.
National Eradication Programs—Exotic Weeds. National eradication programs for weeds in Australia are cooperative efforts between the Australian Government and the state and territory governments. The programs are nationally coordinated by the Office of the Chief Plant Protection Officer. The state or territory government where the pest occurs is responsible for the management and operation of the program with technical assistance from the Commonwealth Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry. National eradication programs in Australia that are currently addressing particular weeds are:
The National Siam Weed Eradication Program commenced in 1995 to eradicate siam weed (Chromolaena odorata) from Queensland. The nationally coordinated program is managed and operated by Queensland's Department of Natural Resources and Mines. Siam weed is a plant exotic to Australia and has the potential to impact on the environment and other plant primary industries.
The National Branched Broomrape Eradication Program commenced in 2000 to eradicate branched broomrape (Orobanche ramosa) from South Australia. The nationally coordinated program is managed and operated by the Primary Industries and Resources South Australia. Branched broomrape is an exotic parasitic weed of a range of broadleaf crops, broadleaf weeds and native plants.
The National Four Tropical Weeds Eradication Program is a program that commenced in 2004 to eradicate the incursions of Koster’s curse (Clidemia hirta), limnocharis (Limnocharis flava), mikania vine (Mikania micrantha) and some Miconia species in Northern New South Wales and Queensland from Australia. The nationally coordinated program is managed and operated by Queensland's Department of Natural Resources and Mines. The program involves extensive community engagement to identify infested areas, targeted weed surveys and weed control, and research components.
The National Framework for the Management and Monitoring of Australia’s Vegetation sets out a national approach to the management and monitoring of Australia's native vegetation and provides a process through which Commonwealth, state and territory commitments can be implemented to improve the quality and extent of Australia's native vegetation cover.
National and state threat abatement actions
Threat Abatement Plan for the KTP Invasion of northern Australia by gamba grass and other introduced grasses (in preparation)
Invasion of native plant communities by Chrysanthemoides monilifera (bitou bush and boneseed) (2006)
State and Territory Initiatives
Victorian Pest Management: Weed Management Strategy, including Weed Alert Plan (2002)
A Weed Plan for Western Australia (2001), Western Australia Environmental Weed Strategy (1999)
Weed Strategy for South Australia (1998)
Tasmanian Weed Management Strategy (2005)
Australian Capital Territory Weeds Strategy (2009–2019)
State and Territory legislative noxious/prohibited weeds lists
E: Competition, predation or herbivory and habitat degradation by marine pests A number of national initiatives are in place to address invasive marine pests that have been introduced into Australia and to prevent further potentially invasive species entering the country. These initiatives are listed below and are instructive when considering the need for a national Threat Abatement Plan.
Australian Ballast Water Management Requirements.On 1 July 2001, Australia introduced mandatory ballast water management requirements (the requirements) to reduce the risk of introducing harmful aquatic organisms into Australia’s marine environment through ships’ ballast water.Australian Ballast Water Management Requirementsare consistent with International Maritime Organization’s International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships' Ballast Water and Sediments guidelines for minimising the risk of translocation of harmful aquatic species in ships' ballast water.
The National Introduced Marine Pest Information System (NIMPIS) provides easy access to information on introduced marine pest species in Australia. NIMPIS contains detailed information on the biology, ecology and distribution of pest species known to have been introduced to Australian waters as well as potential control options for selected pests. It also provides information on species considered a high risk for future introductions.
National System for the Prevention and Management of Marine Pest Incursions. The National System aims to prevent new marine pests arriving, respond by providing effective cost efficient measures to manage the threat when a new pest does arrive and minimise the spread and impact of pests already established in Australia. The measures and arrangements under the National System are being implemented by the National Introduced Marine Pests Coordination Group (NIMPCG). NIMPCG comprises representatives of each of the government, industry and environmental partners of the National System and is chaired by the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry.
Draft guidelines for the control and management of ships’ befouling to minimise the transfer of invasive aquatic species:These guidelines are currently under development by the International Maritime Organization, Australia in working with the group tasked with writing the guidelines.