What’s an environmental weed?
Environmental weeds are introduced plants that have naturalised and invaded our bushland, beaches and waterways threatening our natural environment. Many environmental weeds were originally introduced and grown as ornamental garden plants. Most environmental weeds are not native to Australia but some native plants have also become environmental weeds after spreading outside their natural range.
Why environmental weeds are a problem
Weeds are the second biggest threat to our natural environment after land clearing. Environmental weeds degrade our natural environment by:
• out competing native plant species for available nutrients and light
• taking over and transforming native landscapes, often leading to local plant or animal extinctions and loss of biodiversity
• reducing the availability of food and other resources for many native animals whilst sometimes benefiting pest animals
• increasing the risk of destructive wildfire
• often being toxic to people and animals
• choking waterways and causing erosion
• reducing our access to and enjoyment of waterways, beaches and bushland
Environmental Weeds and Native Alternatives
Weeds are usually very hardy plants. They may grow very quickly, reproduce in large amounts and are often tolerant to a wide range of conditions. It is these qualities that make weeds so successful and also make them difficult to control. Weeds commonly thrive where there has been a disturbance to the natural system such as changes in light, nutrients, soil or hydrology. The spread of weeds can be due to animals, wind, water and human activities. Human activities can encourage the spread of weeds through:
• planting invasive plants in gardens, especially near bushland and waterways
• clearing, mowing or slashing that spreads seeds and plant material from one area to another
• dumping soil and garden rubbish (prunings, lawn clippings, weeds, etc) into bushland
• roads and tracks. Where weed seeds or plant material are carried in on walkers’ shoes, dog fur, horses, bikes and vehicle tyres
• lighting inappropriate fires.
The Gold Coast is one of the most biologically diverse cities in Australia. The city’s varied wildlife habitats, ranging from mountain rainforest to coastal wetlands, are home to a great diversity of amphibians, birds, mammals, reptiles
and fish. This diversity is being seriously threatened by environmental weeds.
What we can do about environmental weeds
The best way to deal with environmental weeds is to control them and prevent their spread.
• Learn to recognise environmental weeds, starting with the ones in this booklet.
• Do not buy or sell environmental weeds.
• Remove environmental weeds from your garden.
• Use local (to the Gold Coast) native plants in your garden.
• Dispose of garden waste responsibly. Never dump garden clippings or aquarium plants in the bush, in waterways or on roadsides.
• Talk to your family and friends about any weeds that may currently be in their gardens.
• Join a bushcare, landcare or beachcare group and help care for your local bushland. Private landholders with more then 1 hectare of land may be eligible to obtain free advice on weed management through Council’s Land for Wildlife scheme. Call council for further information.
Control type Methods and techniques
Prevention: Legislation, Quarantine, Education
Manual: Hand pulling, Crowning
Chemical: Scrape and paint, Cut, scrape and paint, Foliar spraying – spot spraying and overspray, Stem injection frilling/drilling, Gouge and paint
Biological: Introducing predatory insects, Introducing specific biological diseases- i.e. fungi, bacteria.
Excerpt taken from “Environmental Weeds and Native Alternatives: An Identification Guide”, City of Gold Coast, http://www.goldcoast.qld.gov.au/environmental-weeds-of-the-gold-coast-booklet-2406.html, 20 November 2017
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