Weeds Threaten Economy And Biodiversity

Tuesday, 22 August, 2000

Researchers from the CSIRO Entomology told a National Science Briefing that introduced plants and animals are second only to habitat clearing as the greatest threat to Australia's biodiversity. Up to 70% of the weeds are introduced intentionally, for example as ornamental plants. There are about 1000 introduced weeds here now, and 300 of these have become established in the last 25 years.

About 10 new species establish themselves in Australia each year and the rate of establishment is increasing. All conservation areas are now affected.

Australia has the highest level of herbicide resistance weeds in the world, and Western Australia the highest in the country. Australian grain growers need to invest more in biocontrol agents. To remain world competitive, they must have access to herbicide resistant genetically modified crops.

Further development of crop varieties and management systems are also needed to make crops compete more effectively with the weeds. Insects and fungi also need to be found and used in biocontrol.

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