Preventing the introduction of potential new weeds to Australia

Paul Pheloung, Australian Quarantine Inspection Service, GPO Box 858, Canberra, ACT 2601, Australia.


New species and varieties of plants have been brought into Australia continuously since European colonization. While a proportion of these are beneficial and contribute to the quality of Australian life, a similar proportion have naturalized and become weeds of production or the natural environment. The demand to import new plants continues; in a global environment of free trade and easier access to novel plants, this demand is likely to continue to grow.

Eradication of weeds can be very expensive and is unlikely to succeed unless the infestation is detected at a very early stage. Containment and control are also costly and the cost persists indefinitely. The costs involved in identifying potential new weeds and denying their entry to Australia are very small by comparison.

The National Weeds Strategy, which was formally implemented in 1997, identified the development and introduction of measures to exclude new weed introductions as a primary goal. A review of Australian quarantine made similar recommendations. In recognition of this, and with funding support from the NWS, the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS) has implemented a process to screen plant introductions for potential weeds.


Plant Protection Quarterly (1999) 14 (3) 96-99.