Australian alpine ecosystems are highly valued for their biodiversity; however they are restricted in occurrence and are highly vulnerable to climate change. In the Alps, temperatures are predicted to increase and snow duration to decrease. This is a global trend in alpine systems and these changes provide opportunities for new weed species to establish. The number of weed species in the Australian Alps has been on the increase since the 1950’s. This is associated with increased infrastructure development and recreational pursuits that have provided a conduit for weeds to be transported from surrounding low land areas. The increase in weed species at higher elevations over the last decade was the catalyst for a program to detect and treat new and emerging weed species in the alpine areas of Kosciuszko National Park (KNP).
A weed risk assessment was designed to assess risk in montane, sub-alpine and alpine areas. Weeds considered high priority were mapped on trails and camping areas in KNP alpine areas. This baseline information is being used to guide weed control programs. The program is part of broader weed management in KNP, integrating with weed control undertaken in the ski resorts. This ensures a consistent approach across the landscape and helps to prevent weed re-infestation.
Early detection and treatment is the most cost-effective approach and protects the natural environment. The program is a collaborative approach by New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service, Greening Australia and community volunteers, with sponsorship including a bequest from the Milburn Estate and the New South Wales Environmental Trust.
Schroder, M., Burgess, H., Greville, T. and McDougall, K.L. (2015) A collaborative approach to the impacts of a changing climate: Early detection of emerging weeds in the Australian Alps. Plant Protection Quarterly. 30(3), 93-99.