Get access

Weeds and biodiversity conservation: A review of managing weeds under the New South Wales Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995


  • Paul O. Downey,

  • Moira C. Williams,

  • Leonie K. Whiffen,

  • Peter J. Turner,

  • Alana L. Burley,

  • Mark A. Hamilton

  • Paul Downey is a weed ecologist working collaboratively with Moira Williams, Leonie Whiffen, Peter Turner, Alana Burley and Mark Hamilton in the Pest Management Unit, Parks and Wildlife Group, New South Wales Department of Environment and Climate Change (PO Box 1967, Hurstville BC, NSW 1481, Australia; Email:


Summary  In New South Wales, alien plants pose the second greatest threat to biodiversity behind land clearing and habitat loss, yet current weed management does not always address the biodiversity at risk or put in place mechanisms to ensure their recovery. The problem arises in part from an assumption that control programmes which focus only on the weed will result in a biodiversity benefit, rather than acknowledging the need for an assessment of the biodiversity at risk and subsequent incorporation of such information into management strategies. The New South Wales Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995 (TSC Act) has been used as a tool to integrate weed control and biodiversity management through the listing of weeds as key threatening processes and the development and implementation of Threat Abatement Plans (TAPs). Through this process, weed management is forced to focus on actual biodiversity conservation outcomes by directing control to areas where the likelihood of a positive biodiversity response is maximized. Bitou Bush (Chrysanthemoides monilifera ssp. rotundata) was the first weed species listed under the TSC Act as a key threatening process and to have a TAP prepared. Implementation of the Bitou Bush TAP is now potentially assisting the recovery of over 150 native plant species and 24 ecological communities at more than 160 sites. The TAP process is now being used for Lantana (Lantana camara) nationally and for all widespread weed species that threaten biodiversity within each of the 13 Catchment Management Authorities across New South Wales. By focusing the objectives of weed control on biodiversity protection and recovery, and ensuring that sites throughout the distribution of the weed are prioritized, threat reduction and conservation outcomes are more likely to occur at a landscape scale.