New thinking needed to win the war on weeds
Fenner Conference on the Environment seeks to transform weed management in Australia.
While drought and bushfires have wrought widespread damage and hardship across Australia, these crises may provide new opportunities to tackle weeds that have long been the scourge of our agricultural industries and our natural environments.
Another possibility is that we will continue to struggle in the “war on weeds” and that some super-weeds may even be produced by the current conditions.
What is certain is that our current approaches to managing weeds are not working.
The upcoming Australian Academy of Science Fenner Conference on the Environment, Managing wild and weedy Australia across boundaries and disciplines, seeks to initiate a transformation in the way weeds are managed in Australia.
The conference is hosted by the University of Wollongong’s (UOW) Australian Centre for Culture, Environment, Society & Spaces (ACCESS) and is being held at Charlotte Pass in the Kosciuszko National Park from 17 to 21 February.
Conference organiser Dr Sonia Graham, UOW’s School of Geography and Sustainable Communities, said new approaches were needed to manage Australia’s weed problem.
“Australians have been trying to control weeds for over a century, and yet each year billions of dollars are being spent in Australia to limit the spread of weeds and reduce their impact on agricultural industries and the environment,” Dr Graham said.
Fellow conference organiser Dr Robyn Bartel, from the University of New England, added: “We need new and fresh ideas – maybe even such ‘super’ plants – to enable more sustainable outcomes to be achieved.”
The conference comes at a crucial point in time, as the Australian Government and many State Governments prepare their recovery strategies after the unprecedented fires over the 2019-20 summer.
For one whole week, from 17 to 21 February 2020, the nation’s best and brightest from the research, practitioner and government sectors will be talking, and walking the talk, of weed management. Kosciuszko National Park is an area renowned for its natural beauty, rare and unique alpine habitats – an inspiring setting to consider innovative approaches to weed threats.
Experts, including debate leader Professor Kristine French from the University of Wollongong, will work together to answer the question: What are the highest priority actions we can commit to, working together across boundaries and disciplines, that will deliver the greatest contribution to radically improved weed management research, policy and practice in Australia?