I read, recently, in The Age, “Parks Victoria describes Anglesea heathlands as the richest and most diverse vegetation community in Victoria”. Unfortunately, the threat of weed invasion, particularly, Boneseed, Blue Bell Creeper and Sallow Wattle, emanating from urban Anglesea, places the long term future of this vegetation community in serious jeopardy.

Yet despite the threat of environmental weeds in Australia’s conservation reserves, most invasive plants in Australia are not regulated, and continue to be planted and introduced to new areas.

In Victoria, declared noxious weeds are categorized as follows-­:

  1. State Prohibited Weeds: In Victoria there are currently about twenty weeds listed. These weeds either do not occur in Victoria, or if they do, the populations are small enough to be eradicated. The Department of Primary Industry is responsible for their removal. None of these weeds occur on the Surf Coast.
  2. Regionally Prohibited Weeds: These are weeds that are not widely distributed throughout the Corangamite region, and the populations are small enough to be eradicated from our region. There are only seven Regionally Prohibited Weeds in the Corangamite Region, and we do not see them along the Surf Coast.
  3. Regionally Controlled Weeds: These are weeds that are well established in the Corangamite region, are capable of spreading further, and should be stopped from doing so. Continuing control measures are required to prevent its spread. Landowners and occupiers are responsible for preventing the growth and spread of regionally controlled weeds. There are about thirty Regionally Controlled Weeds listed for Corangamite. The only weeds on the list that we see on the Surf Coast are Blackberry, Boneseed, Boxthorn, Bulbil Watsonia, Flax-­?leaved Broom and Gorse.
  4. Restricted Weeds: These are weeds that have the potential to spread within the Corangamite Region. Their sale and trade is an unacceptable environmental risk. It is an offence to spread, sell or buy these plants without a permit. About forty plants are listed as restricted in Corangamite, but only Angled Onion, Spiny Rush and Soursob are of a concern along the Surf Coast.

In 1998, the Australian Government developed a framework to identify twenty weeds which could be considered Weeds of National Significance (WONS) within an Agricultural, Forestry and Environmental context. WONS status brings a weed species under national management for the purpose of restricting its spread, and for eradicating it from parts of Australia. A strategic plan has been prepared for each WONS, which outlines actions required to control the weed, and identifies responsibilities for each action. Four weeds common on the Surf Coast – Blackberry, Boneseed, Bridal Creeper and Gorse – are listed.

In conclusion, most of the environmental weeds that are causing major problems in our conservation reserves along the Surf Coast, and which are destroying our indigenous vegetation, are not regulated as noxious weeds under state legislation. They can still be sold in nurseries, and there are no restrictions on cultivating most of our environmental weeds in private gardens.

I think that all the major invasive weed species should be incorporated into Regional Noxious Weed legislation. This would at least prevent their sale at local nurseries. I think, also, it would be helpful if Local Government had greater responsibilities for regulating the noxious weed laws. Historically the noxious weed legislation has been more focused on the Agricultural sector. I think it urgently needs to give equal focus on regulating noxious weed invasion to our conservation reserves.

Carl Rayner

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