[ASC-media] Media release: weeds a catchment priority

JCA Media jca.media at starclass.com.au
Tue Nov 28 12:01:33 CET 2006

Cooperative Research Centre for Australian Weed Management 

Media Release 

November 29, 2006


Weed control is a top priority for managers of Australia's 56 new NRM (natural resource management) regions. This was one of the key messages to emerge from the National NRM Workshop held on the Gold Coast last week.

This follows recent survey results from the Australian Bureau of Statistics showing that weed management is now the single largest cost for most agricultural enterprises, exceeding $4 billion per year nationally.

'The 56 NRM regions have been given a huge responsibility by federal and state governments to look after an enormous area of Australia at the local level', says Weeds CRC CEO Dr Rachel McFadyen.

'The concept of NRM regions is a correct, holistic response to the challenge of sustainable natural resource management', says Dr McFadyen. 'There's not a farm fence in the land that will stop weeds or water. We must look across farm and other property boundaries, and consider issues such as weeds and water at the catchment scale.'

Dr McFadyen said that all NRM regions recognise weeds as a major natural resource issue, and they urgently need good advice and weed management techniques.

According to the CRC, the three big weed challenges for NRM regions, also known as Catchment Management Authorities in some states, are:
"	to identify and prioritise their worst local weed threats so they can allocate  
      their resources efficiently
"	to apply the latest and most effective scientific strategies for weed control
"	to help train their staff in the latest weed control techniques.

Despite the Federal Government's decision earlier this month not to continue the Weeds CRC past June 2008, Dr McFadyen said the CRC will continue to deliver its scientific advice to state agriculture departments, farm advisers and farm groups until then. 
In the meantime the existing Weeds CRC has begun working with NRM regions in Tasmania, South Australia, New South Wales and Victoria to determine their precise needs for effective weed control, says the CRC's Kathryn Galea.

"Many of these bodies are a bit isolated from one another and get their information in different ways. There is also a risk of duplication, so we're trying to ensure they all have access to the latest in weed science and on-ground strategies to make the most effective control decisions for their region," she says.

"We are also trying to help them integrate weed control with the other things they are doing in their catchments to restore land and water quality.

"For example, some anti-salinity strategies can result in weed problems over time if the wrong plants are used in revegetation schemes.  We can help them to avoid this."

Ms Galea says that many NRM groups lack knowledge of what to do in the event of invasion by a new pest plant.

The Weeds CRC is using pilot groups in several existing catchment areas to build awareness of what is available to combat weeds and also build confidence that the latest anti-weed approaches work.

"Regional areas rely heavily on volunteers and bushcare groups to deliver weed control - if it proves ineffective, they can become discouraged and lose interest," Dr McFadyen adds. "It is vital to use the best weed control techniques and for groups to see visible results for all their hard work."

Dr McFadyen says that in its final 18 months the Weeds CRC will seek to provide the expertise and information that NRM regions require to manage weeds at a landscape scale. The CRC will also be talking to stakeholders and partner organisations to see if and how any of the skills and products generated by the CRC could remain available after June 2008.

More information:
Dr Rachel McFadyen, CEO, Weeds CRC, 0409 263 817
Kathryn Galea, 0407 635 476
Peter Martin, Weeds CRC, 08 8303 6693, 0429 830 366

Website: www.weeds.crc.org.au
Images of weeds are available from rita.reitano at adelaide.edu.au

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