We have discussed elsewhere on this website (What To Do About Weeds?) how people have very different conceptions of weeds - some see weeds as not a problem due to their roles in ecosystem function etc, while others see weeds are highly problematic, particularly in relation to reducing biodiversity. Such discussions are good and should inform our approaches to dealing with weeds.
However in a very practical sense, weeds are far too numerous to be eliminated altogether. With this in mind, we need to be strategic in our approach. We have, like many others, adopted an 'emergency room' response. We are aware that some weeds are worse than others and, consequently, we have a triage system for identifying what weeds we must get rid of, what weeds may be tolerated in certain contexts, and what weeds we tend to not put too much time removing. This system allows us to allocate time and resources towards more effective weed management than an adhoc approach. The table shows how we prioritise weeds.
High Priority for Removal
Giant Devils Fig, Singapore Daisy, Camphor Laurel, Easter Cassia, Persimmon, Cat's Claw Creeper, Madeira Vine, Crofton, Groundsel Bush, Prickly Amaranth
These weeds are highly invasive in our region and tend to offer few benefits for biodiversity.
Medium Priority for Removal
Lantana, Tobacco Bush, Hairy Goat Weed, Jacaranda
These weeds can offer ecosystem benefits in certain contexts. For example, Lantana offers small bird species protection and nesting opportunities, while Hairy Goat Weed does provide food for pollinators when there are scarce food resources.
Low Priority for Removal
Cobblers Peg, Radium Weed
These weeds tend not to be overly invasive at our place.
A weed management plan is a good way to start as it helps prioritise what weeds need immediate attention and where on your property this needs to occur. Land for Wildlife SEQ's Developing a Weed Management Plan is a great place to start.
Repairing the Rainforest
S. Goosem and N. Tucker
"From a restoration perspective not all weeds are ruinous. Some can be exploited because they attract seed dispersing vertebrates and are able to shade out grasses and other light-demanding weeds. Camphor laurel (Cinnamomum camphora) is one example of a woody weed which performs both these roles. The fruits of camphor laurel are eagerly sought by flocks of white-headed pigeons (Columba leucomela) during the months of March and April when there are few other rainforest fruits available. The trees cast deep shade which provides an ideal germination niche for native rainforest
In northern New South Wales, these attributes have been strategically exploited by restoration practitioners who are using existing camphor laurel trees to increase the amount of woody plant cover and hasten the process of succession. In north Queensland there are other weeds which can also promote succession. For example, tobacco bush (Solanum mauritianum) provides a regular supply of fruits to many birds, and casts sufficient shade to encourage the germination of rainforest plants.
It is not legal or advisable to cultivate some of these species, but in many areas they are an important existing component of a woody succession and arguably there are situations where there is merit in allowing them to continue to function in this way."