What is it with weeds?

A weed is simply a plant growing in the wrong place. In our part of the world weeds  threaten the integrity of native vegetation remnants  and farmers identify weeds as a major issue in the sustainability of their farming enterprises. Huge amounts of resources and time are spent combatting weeds in both natural and agricultural systems, and our region’s warm and wet and wonderful climate  also supports prolific weed growth.

The first step in weed control is the correct identification. Many weeds have specific control methods linked to the plant’s life cycle or chemical sensitivity. What works to control  one weed may promote the spread of another so identification is important. There are many web based and written resources to help with this an excellent one is uploaded below-Weeds of the North Coast of NSW, we also have hard copies of these and other weed resources in our office.

Successful weed control usually  integrates a number of approaches: a process known as integrated weed control.

Integrated weed control considers:

  1. Choosing a range of control methods (eg chemical, cultivation, hand pulling)
  2. The removal of the weed (weed control)
  3. Encouragement of desirable species (competition)
  4. Follow-up control

Whatever the method chosen, it is  important to consider what will happen after control activities which usually result in either bare soil or disturbance of some sort – conditions which favour colonisation by more weeds! For example, will the weed be replaced by a native vegetation in a remnant or will better pasture plants be encouraged to grow in its place in an agricultural situation?

A significant decision is whether to use a chemical or non-chemical control method. Considerations include the particular sensitivity of a species to chemicals, the extent of the infestation,  how and where the weed is growing, and control equipment and time availalbe. The Landcare Office has many resources to help you make the right choice for the right weed in each situation.

When using a herbicide, following the label is essential. The label is a legal document and specifies the plants that the particular herbicide is registered to control, as well as application methods and application rates.

Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) can be found on the Internet. These give detailed information about the chemical, any handling and transport restrictions, toxicity rating, poisoning advice, etc.

Whose Responsibility are weeds?

Invasive Plant Management now falls under the Biosecurity Act 2015 (replacing the repealed Noxious Weeds Act). The term ‘noxious’ and the class system is no longer used. Invasive Plant Management now operates on a priority scale, with state and regional priorities. The Biosecurity Act is tenure neutral, as the responsibilities apply equally to all land holders, whether public or private.

Any land managers and users of land have a General Biosecurity Duty – to ensure that biosecurity risks are prevent, eliminated, or minimised so far as is reasonably practicable.

Prevention – These species are not known to be present in NSW or the North Coast region. Prevent these weeds from arriving and establishing in the region. Call the Biosecurity Hotline on 1800 680 244 or the Council Invasive Plants Officer on (02) 6655 7300 if you think you have seen these weeds anywhere.

Eradication – These species are either not present or present to a limited extent in NSW or the North Coast region. Eradicate these weeds be permanently removing of destroying all known infestations using the information found on NSW WeedWise. Contact the Council Invasive Plants Officer on 6655 7300.

Containment – These species have a limited distribution in NSW or the North Coast region. Contain these weeds by preventing the ongoing spread of the species. Use control information found on NSW WeedWise or pick-up a handbook from Landcare or Council to find information on how to proactively manage these weeds.

Widespread Environmental Weeds – These are the lowest priority weeds (from a biosecurity perspective). These species are widespread and unlikely to be eradicated or contained within the broader regional context. Use the control information found on NSW WeedWise or pick up a handbook from Landcare or Council to find information on how to manage these weeds to prevent them from impacting on key assets.

Weed guide handbook:

Weeds of the North Coast of NSW – A guide to identification and control

Comprehensive list of weeds of the North Coast and their priority:

North Coast Regional Strategic Weed Management Plan 2017-2022

Bellingen Shire Council is the Local Control Authority (LCA) which has the responsibility of implementing the Biosecurity Act in our area. Council’s Invasive Plants team works with landholders to ensure their responsibilities are understood and implemented. They can be contacted at Council by calling (02) 6655 7300 or emailing council@bellingen.nsw.gov.au

Environmental weeds

Environmental weeds pose a threat to native habitat and communities of plants and animals. There may not be a the same legal responsibility to control some of these, but they can have huge impacts on native habitats and reduce biodiversity. Some have the potential spread into agricultural systems. Government support is available to support environmental weed control in certain circumstances. Some of our worst local environmental weeds are:


Camphor laurel


Groundsel Bush


Madeira vine

Mother of Millions




Agricultural weeds

These weeds pose a threat to agricultural productivity. Locally important species include:


Chilean Needle Grass

Coolatai Grass

Crofton Weed

Giant Paramatta Grass

A local weed identification book Weeds of the North Coast of NSW – A guide to identification and control has been developed by the Coffs Harbour Regional Landcare and North Coast Local Land Services with funding from the NSW Government through its Environmental Trust Every Bit Counts project, North Coast Weeds Action Program and Coffs Harbour City Council Environmental Levy Grants Program. It is a comprehensive booklet with high quality photos and detailed descriptions of local weeds and the methods that can be used to control them. While not every plant that is considered a weed on the North Coast is included, the booklet’s focus is on the most invasive species and those that are newly emerging in this region.

The book can be downloaded here or you can pick up a copy from Landcare or Bellingen Shire Council. Thank you to Coffs Landcare for this valuable resource.