Impact of weeds

This page has information about the impact of weeds in the Northern Territory (NT).

Weeds can have many negative economic, environmental, social and cultural impacts. Some weeds also change fire behaviour and intensity.

High impact weeds can invade and change the landscape.

Other weeds need some help to invade, and their spread is sometimes a symptom of poor land management or high levels of disturbance.

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Economy

Weeds in the NT cost land managers millions of dollars each year.

Weeds can cause all of the following damage to the NT economy:

  • loss of good grazing country such as desirable pasture plants are replaced by weeds
  • increased weed control costs such as herbicide and aerial spraying
  • increased mustering costs
  • altered fire regimes, which reduces access to pasture and feed
  • illness and loss of stock that eat toxic weeds
  • weeds use water which would otherwise be available for stock
  • weeds such as mimosa and prickly acacia can block stock from getting to water
  • increased costs because of weed contamination of agricultural products and quarantine requirements
  • increased feral animal control costs as animals including feral pigs hide in weedy areas.

Environment

Weeds can cause all of the following damage to the NT environment:

  • compete with and take over native plants
  • destroy native wildlife habitat and reduce natural food supplies
  • make fires hotter and more destructive
  • hide feral animals and make them difficult to control
  • damage waterways and water quality.

Fire

Grass weeds can make fires hotter, more destructive and change the natural environment.

Hot and destructive fires carried by grass weeds present a very serious threat to life and property.

The cost of fire management has increased by many millions of dollars annually because of the spread of grass weeds.

Recreation

Weeds can limit access to natural landscapes and affect all of the following:

  • hunting
  • fishing
  • boating
  • camping
  • bush walking.

Culture

Weeds can replace native plants and animals and reduce traditional foods and other resources used by Aboriginal people.

Weeds can harm the social wellbeing of Aboriginal landowners by altering their spiritual and physical connections to country.

Very intense and destructive fires carried by weeds can destroy rock art and other important sites.

Last updated: 19 July 2018

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