Noxious weeds

What is a noxious weed?

A noxious weed is a plant declared to be noxious by the relevant State Minister: In NSW it is the Minister for Agriculture. (Note: Each State has their own system of declaration.)

The term ‘noxious weed’ is often confused with obnoxious weeds. Quite often noxious weeds have thorns or are toxic and can be referred to as being obnoxious. Weeds may be declared noxious for the whole of the State, for a region or regions, for a local government area, or for part of an area.

Before a weed is declared to be noxious it must meet certain criteria and the community must be consulted about the proposed declaration. It must meet the following criteria:

  • Need – The weed has, or could have, serious adverse effects on agriculture, the environment, or human health.
  • Benefit – A significant benefit to agriculture, the environment, or the community can be expected from declaration.
  • Means – There are reasonable and enforceable means available to control the weed as categorised.
  • Intent – There is a firm intention by the local control authority, or the government, to implement a planned program to control the weed as categorised.
  • Weed distribution – The weed does not occur in NSW, or is of limited distribution, and has the potential to become more widespread.
  • Outcome – For a species to remain categorised, the local control authority must maintain an effective control program.

Declaration of a weed can impose considerable costs on public and private landholders and the local control authority. Declaration may also restrict personal freedom by forcing landholders to carry out activities that they would not otherwise carry out. There must be a clear public benefit from the proposed declaration. There are five classes of noxious weeds identified in the Act (see table below).

Noxious weed declarations, listed by control category

Weed identification booklet - NSW Far North Coast


Control class Weed type Example control requirements
     
 Class 1 Plants that pose a potentially serious threat to primary production or the environment and are not present in the State or are present only to a limited extent. The plant must be eradicated from the land and the land must be kept free of the plant. The weeds are also “notifiable” and a range of restrictions on their sale and movement exist.
     
Class 2 Plants that pose a potentially serious threat to primary production or the environment of a region to which the order applies and are not present in the region or are present only to a limited extent. The plant must be eradicated from the land and the land must be kept free of the plant. The weeds are also “notifiable” and a range of restrictions on their sale and movement exist.
     
 Class 3 Plants that pose a potentially serious threat to primary production or the environment of a region to which the order applies, are not widely distributed in the area and are likely to spread in the area or to another area. The plant must be fully and continuously suppressed and destroyed.*
     
 Class 4 Plants that pose a potentially serious threat to primary production, the environment or human health, are widely distributed in an area to which the order applies and are likely to spread in the area or to another area. The growth of the plant must be managed in a manner that reduces its numbers spread and incidence and continuously inhibits its reproduction.*
     
 Class 5 Plants that are likely, by their sale or the sale of their seeds or movement within the State or an area of the State, to spread in the State or outside the State. There are no requirements to control existing plants of class 5 weeds. However, the weeds are “notifiable” and a range of restrictions on their sale and movement exists.

NOTE: All class 1, 2 and 5 weeds are prohibited from sale in NSW.

* In some cases the following wording has also been inserted: “the plant may not be sold, propagated or knowingly distributed.”