What is the Tasmanian Weeds Action Fund?
In the 2018-19 State Budget, the Government announced the creation of a new Weeds Action Fund (WAF) of $5 million over five years commencing in 2018. The funds provided by the WAF will be invested with farmers and other community organisations to tackle weeds that are impacting on valuable agricultural and environmental assets.
Objectives of the Weeds Action Fund
- To provide a more strategic and targeted approach to tackling high priority weeds that affect agriculture and the environment.
- To improve the productive value of agricultural land and protect Tasmania’s natural values by removing the harmful effects of serious weed threats.
- To support landowners, local government and the broader community in tackling serious weeds with sustainable, long-term and effective actions.
- To ensure there is a strong, coordinated link between the different levels of Government and the Tasmanian community in tackling serious weeds and the delivery of the WAF through the appointment of a Chair of the Tasmanian Weeds Action Fund.
- Encourage the concept of “shared responsibility” for weed management and biosecurity in general and provide an opportunity for landowners to co-invest in removing the threat of serious weeds on their properties.
Delivery of the Weeds Action Fund
- Delivery of the WAF will be across several stages. The Chair of the Weeds Action Fund, Mr Ian Sauer, has been appointed to help in the establishment and roll-out of the Fund and importantly to ensure stakeholders and potential participants in the program are fully engaged and aware of the Fund’s objectives.
- Delivery of Stage One has been undertaken by Biosecurity Tasmania and is providing a total of $142,000 in 2018-2019 for small grants of between $1000 to $5000.
- The Government is currently inviting tenders for the delivery of Stage Two of the Weeds Action Fund in which the majority of the Government's $5 million commitment will roll out over the next four years.
- As a precursor to the major Stage Two – a Drought and Weed Management Program was launched in March 2020 to provide funding to eligible Councils.
Weeds Action Fund – Drought and Weed Management Program
The Drought and Weed Management Program is a 12 month, $350,000 project funded through the Weeds Action Fund. It aims to support farmers in drought-affected areas of Tasmania to help manage weeds favoured by drought and post-drought conditions that impact on agricultural productivity.
One-off grants of up to $55,000 will be provided to eligible councils to directly support drought-affected farmers within their municipalities to manage weeds. The Program will support farmers that have been identified as experiencing hardship as a consequence of drought and offer a range of solutions to mitigate the impacts of weeds that can be supported through funding.
Landowners in the eligible Local Government Areas that earn more than 50% of their gross income from primary production may be eligible for support from their council.
Weeds Action Fund – Stage 1 Projects Announced
Roll out of the Weeds Action Fund Stage 1 Small Grants program is well underway. The announcement of successful projects was made by the Minister in November.
The Assessment panel reviewed a large number (75) of applications submitted and 34 projects have been funded. Successful projects include actions targeting serious agricultural and environmental weeds such as Paterson's curse, horehound, gorse, Spanish heath, Besom heath, African boxthorn, orange hawkweed, Parramatta grass, serrated tussock, and Chilean needle grass. Several projects are also targeting weed threats to wetlands, off-shore islands, such as Maatsuyker Island and islands in the Furneaux group, and weeds threatening vegetation communities, such as black gum.
The full list of the successful Weeds Action Fund Stage 1 projects is available for download below:
Principles supporting Weeds Action Fund investment
- Tasmania has 147 weeds declared under the
Weed Management Act 1999. The highest priority weeds for control are those that are either considered eradicable (at a statewide or regional scale) or clearly threaten high priority agricultural or environmental assets.
- There are also a range of weed species not declared under the Act, usually referred to as environmental weeds, that are of interest to the community. The principles that underpin the management of declared weeds also apply to environmental weeds.
- A key principle of effective weed management is that of “shared responsibility”; i.e., all of the Tasmanian community has a role to play in preventing weeds from becoming a serious threat.
Generalised Invasion Curve
Image: Based on the Victorian Department of Environment and Primary Industries (2014) version
Prevention of weed invasion is the most cost-effective action, but once an incursion occurs there is a small window of opportunity to eradicate that species. It’s at this point where incursion responses activate and all attempts are made to eradicate the weed. For those species that are beyond eradication,
management focuses on containment or asset protection.
Containment aims to prevent the pest from moving into and becoming established in previously “clean” areas. Asset-based protection occurs when eradication or containment are no longer feasible and attention shifts to protecting high value assets, including environmental, economic, capital or social assets.
- These principles can be graphically represented by the invasion curve, which shows how the cost-benefit ratios change through the different stages of the invasion and establishment of a weed.