EPPO Global Database

EPPO Reporting Service no. 03 - 2007 Num. article: 2007/061

Nursery and garden industry initiative in Australia: the Invasive Plants Policy Position

Australians are becoming increasingly aware of weeds as an environmental issue. The nursery industry is often accused of being the source of many introductions and spreads of invasive plants. In Australia, government legislation has started to reflect this and weeds are regulated at a national, state and local government scale.
The “Nursery and Garden Industry Australia” and the various “state Nursery and garden Industry Associations” around Australia have been working with state governments on invasive plants to control their distribution and sale. The nursery industry as a whole would like to be considered as one of the most environmentally responsible industries in Australia.
The nursery industry has therefore developed an Invasive Plants Policy Position aiming at:
  • A fairer approach for the nursery and garden industry: the profession thinks that it is counter-productive and misleading to blame the industry.
  • A set of agreed lists to identify invasive alien plants both at national and state levels: multiple lists of unclear status is unsustainable and makes it impossible for industry to develop a coordinated response. Plants on those lists should be specified at the variety level. Bred varieties are the result of years of development and investment and are often bred to be sterile; those varieties should not be included into the list without evidence of their invasive behaviour. These lists have to be made in a transparent and accountable manner and any decisions to ban ornamental plants should be undertaken in consultation with the industry and with a suitable period of notice to allow the industry to adjust.
  • A consistent weed risk assessment process to identify invasive plants: regulation, policy and management decisions should not be undertaken without transparent and accountable weed risk assessments. Any assessment process should be open to public scrutiny, available for the industry to review in case of disagreement.
  • The recognition of the industry’s efforts: governments should support the best practice initiated by the industry. The nursery industry recognises the importance of correct naming and labelling of plants, including the use of full species names, and will develop a national labelling policy to address this issue.
  • Communication and awareness programmes: the nursery industry does not support the use of mandatory plant labelling with “invasiveness warning”, and encourages positive campaigns rather than negative ones. A “grow me instead” approach proposing non-invasive alien plants instead of invasive plants is recommended (see RS 2007/062). The industry speaks to the target group (householders) on a daily basis, and would like to be seen as friends of the environment by educating the public in making responsible choices.
  • A secure and sustainable future for the business: changes in invasive plant policy have significant impacts on the sustainability of the industry. The industry has shown willingness to be an active participant in consultative processes relating to invasive plants.