What are WONS - Weeds of National Significance ?

In the mid 1990s the Australian Government in a review of the benefits derived from landowners and the communities investment in controlling weeds decided to prepare a National Weeds Strategy. Part of this strategy was to determine the top 20 Weeds Of National Significance and bring together state and federal government departments with community members to consolidate what was known about each of the weeds including their current and potential distribution to see if the return on the investment could be improved. You can find the Australian Weeds Strategy on the Weeds Australia web site page www.weeds.org.au/aws.htm where you can also access the Weeds Strategy five year Report. The ten year review is currently underway and whilst the National WONS co-ordinators regularly meet to exchange ideas and experiences with each other these reviews across the 20 WONS also get input from the community on their perceptions of what is working and what is not.

The following is the preface to the The Determination of Weeds of National Significance if you need more information, including how the 20 WONS were selected above other weeds you hate, click on the link to this determination or go to the Weeds Australia Web site www.weeds.org.au/natsig.htm page to read a synopsus of the determination.

 Preface Successful long-term weed management requires a strategic approach to existing and potential problems. There is also a requirement for ongoing commitment. In response to the need for improved coordination in the management of weeds, Commonwealth, State and Territory Ministers responsible for agriculture and resource management, environment and conservation, and forestry agreed to develop a National Weeds Strategy. The Strategy, which was released in 1997 (Anon. 1997), aims to strengthen the cost efficiency and effectiveness of weed management to bring about a reduction in the economic, environmental and social impacts of weeds. The Strategy provides guidelines to improve future weed management performance within Australia. Substantial benefits are possible from jointly addressing weed issues across different portfolios. There is an increasing recognition that various land-use practices affect weed encroachment, but also impact across ecosystems and jurisdictions. This is reflected in the willingness of three separate Ministerial Councils to endorse the Strategy. The National Weeds Strategy has three goals, eight objectives and twenty-six action strategies to achieve the goals. Goal two is "To reduce the impact of existing weed problems of national significance". The first objective under this goal is to develop a process for determining and ranking weed problems of national significance. In order to implement the Strategy, the National Weeds Strategy Executive Committee was also established in 1997. The Committee concluded that the greatest impact from weed problems within Australia was related to the effect and spread of individual species. On this basis, the assessment procedure developed would focus on determining weeds of national significance (WONS). The determination of WONS is the first attempt to prioritise weeds over a range of land uses at the national level. It is not a purely scientific process, but an attempt to draw together meaningful indicators on which to base future weed decision-making. It also provides a framework for prioritising weeds at the State, regional and local levels. Responsibility for weed issues is shared across all sectors of government and the community, recognising that under the Australian Constitution, State and Territory governments have legislative and administrative responsibility for land use matters including weed control. Despite Commonwealth intervention in weed issues through the National Weeds Strategy, the Natural Heritage Trust and actions to address WONS, most weed problems will still have to be dealt with primarily through State and local government initiatives and by land managers themselves. The selection of twenty WONS is a test case for improved coordination amongst the range of stakeholders responsible for weed management within Australia. This vision for future approaches to weed management is critical if coordinated and integrated action is to be undertaken that results in long-term outcomes to reduce the impacts of weeds on Australia’s productive capacity and natural ecosystems.  

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