Biological control – a natural solution in the war on weeds
Australia’s impressive 100-year history in biocontrol of weeds is recorded and celebrated, and the importance of future biocontrol is highlighted by CSIRO, state, national and international authors in the book, Biological Control of Weeds in Australia, published by CSIRO Publishing and launched in Canberra today.
“Using the natural enemies of foreign or invasive weeds has proven to be a key weapon in the war on weeds and is still front and centre as we tackle a range of new invasions in the 21st century,” according to biosecurity research leader with CSIRO Ecosystem Sciences, Dr Paul De Barro.
“Australia has certainly led the world over the past century with its groundbreaking research and introduction of biological control starting with the spectacular success against prickly pear cactus in the early part of the 20th century and gaining speed from there,” Dr De Barro said.
“Using the natural enemies of foreign or invasive weeds has proven to be a key weapon in the war on weeds and is still front and centre as we tackle a range of new invasions in the 21st century,”
says Dr Paul De Barro.
Along with state and Commonwealth agencies, CSIRO has played an important part in developing Australia’s expertise and helping establish the rigorous exploration and screening processes and the mass rearing of biocontrol agents.
CSIRO’s biological control and exploration labs in Montpellier, France, and formerly in Vera Cruz, Mexico, have been key to that success, and Australian research and training continues to guide many international activities.
“CSIRO scientists and the Montpellier lab were instrumental in the first successful use of a plant pathogen or rust to massively reduce one of Australia’s worst weeds – skeleton weed – from south eastern Australian agricultural regions over 15 years,” Dr De Barro said
“Biocontrol successes can take 15 or 30 years to reach full effect, and while not all efforts succeed they invariably complement other measures and the cost benefits are indisputable.”
“For every dollar spent on biological control of weeds up to 2005, it has been shown that A$23 of benefits flowed to the agriculture and health sectors, and the environmental benefits would be on top of that.”
“Weeds biocontrol represents exceptional bang for buck but requires commitment across both short and long-term horizons and across jurisdictions to deliver its full potential.”
“CSIRO sees weeds biocontrol research as an important part of the contribution we can make to Australia’s biosecurity and it is a key element of CSIRO’s effort targeting pest and disease threats to be coordinated through our developing Biosecurity Flagship.”
“For a book that will serve as an invaluable guide and reference source for anyone involved in biological control, I commend the editors Mic Julien, Rachel McFadyen and Jim Cullen, and all the Chapter authors who have made it possible.”