Managing pest animals and weeds in our national parks

We manage pest animal and weed populations in our national parks and wider reserve system.

Fox, introduced species, pest and threat to native animalsInvasive, introduced pest animals and weeds, are widespread across NSW. Many are listed as key threatening processes and pose a danger to over 70% of all threatened species.

The proposed NSW Invasive Species Plan 2015–2022 sets out goals, strategies and guidelines to exclude, eradicate or manage invasive species across all lands in NSW.

NPWS has developed specific regional pest management strategies for the control of pest animals and plants within the NSW National Parks Estate.

Pest animals and weeds found in our national parks

Pest animals like foxes, wild dogs, feral pigs, rabbits, feral goats and feral cats are widespread across the state. Other pests, such as feral horses, deer, rats and cane toads, present localised problems in some parks and reserves.

Invasive weeds can include bitou bush, lantana, blackberry, scotch broom, African olive, introduced perennial grasses, such as Coolatai and buffel grass, and exotic vines and scramblers, such as asparagus weeds. All of these weeds are listed as key threatening processes in NSW.

Currently, one of the most important weed programs in NSW is the eradication of two new species, orange hawkweed and mouse-ear hawkweed, from Kosciuszko National Park.

Since the arrival of Europeans, there have been significant declines and extinctions among Australia’s native animals and plants. Introduced pest animals and weeds have been identified as the major cause for many of these losses.

Pests continue to represent one of the greatest threats to biodiversity in Australia with new species still being detected. They also cause financial losses to agriculture and other industries and damage areas of cultural significance.

Managing the impacts of pests is an issue of great importance for managers of all land tenures. The issue requires sustained, integrated, long-term management to minimise damage to environmental, economic and social values.

Australia's introduced plants and animals date from the very first days of European settlement in the late 1700s. Ever since, they have been brought from other countries and released into the Australian environment.

Introduced weed species are exotic plants that have formed naturalised populations. Most have been introduced as garden plants, pasture grasses or other horticultural plants.

Pest animal populations include feral goats, deer and pigs and are descended from domesticated herds imported for agriculture. Feral cats and dogs, which may have escaped from their owners or been intentionally dumped in the bush, pose a significant threat to native species and farming interests.

When national parks are created, pest animals and weeds may already be well established.

What we are doing about it

Pest animals in NSW are managed by the following organisations:

  • NSW Department of Primary Industries
  • Local Land Services
  • Environment Protection Authority
  • Office of Environment and Heritage - National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS)
  • Private land managers, communities and special interest groups
  • Local government and councils
  • Industry

NPWS is responsible for managing National Parks and Nature Reserves for the protection and conservation of biodiversity in NSW.

We manage pests within the state's park system to protect native animals and plants, maintain natural ecosystems and cultural heritage, and minimise the spread of pest animals and weeds to and from neighbouring land.

The complete eradication of pests over wide areas of different land tenure is rarely practicable. It is therefore necessary to prioritise pest management efforts and allocate resources to those areas where they will be of greatest benefit.

Priorities include:

  • areas where new pest outbreaks occur
  • where threatened native plants and animals are at risk from the impacts of pests
  • where there is a need to minimise the impacts of pests on neighbouring lands, such as farmland
  • where pests impact significantly on human health
  • where pests impact significantly on heritage areas

NPWS works with other government agencies, Catchment Management Authorities, private landholders and community groups to protect native species, the environment and agriculture on neighbouring lands.

Pest animal management programs and priorities

Managing pest animals in our national parks involves:

  • developing and implementing regional pest management strategies
  • developing and implementing threat abatement plans for specific animals
  • native species recovery programs
  • research to ensure the protection of threatened species
  • community education

Current pest management priorities for NPWS are detailed in the Regional Pest Management Strategies. Furthermore, the NSW Saving our Species (SOS) program provides priorities for the protection of threatened species from pests and weeds (and other threats) across New South Wales.

NPWS carry out weed control programs across NSW. We identify and prioritise specific sites where control programs will be of most benefit to native biodiversity. The NSW Saving our Species (SOS) program provides priorities for the protection of threatened species from pests and weeds (and other threats) across New South Wales.

Read more about our weed management, strategy and priorities.