SA should prepare for ‘weed change’


Image: CSIRO.
Image: CSIRO.

As the climate continues to warm, South Australia will face a ‘weed change’, the CSIRO has found.

The report, Climate Change and Invasive Plants in South Australia, used climate projections to 2080 to examine changes in the distribution and abundance of weeds across the state.

The report included detailed profiles for 13 weed species and offered recommendations for managing weeds under climate change.

Lead author, Dr Darren Kriticos, said existing weed problems in northern areas of the State could shift further south, presenting a real challenge for those communities with no past experience in managing the specific species.

“In fact, we may be seeing a case of weed change,” Dr Kriticos said.

He said weeds are a major threat to Australia’s biodiversity and agricultural areas because they are able to out-compete native species and contribute to land degradation.

It is estimated that weeds cost Australia more than $4 billion each year in control measures and lost production.

Dr Kriticos said it was possible to adapt to new strategic weed management through heeding the early warning of projected climatic changes.

“Being forearmed with this knowledge and sharing information with those who deal with the likely ‘weeds of tomorrow’ will give communities an increased awareness and ability to strategically control potential future problem weeds,” Dr Kriticos said.

“As the climate warms the geographic range of some of the weeds that prefer cooler conditions may be reduced.

“If we can prevent the replacement with other weeds we may be able to put the squeeze on some weeds, particularly the notoriously destructive weeds Bridal Creeper and Scotch Broom.”

The report was produced by CSIRO for the South Australian Department of Water, Land and Biodiversity Conservation.

Read the full report: Climate change and invasive plants in South Australia [PDF]

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