Woman in a sunhat removing weeds from a garden.
Weed identification with the WeedWise app

Do you want to know more about weeds and how to control them?

NSW WeedWise is a free web and smartphone application produced by the Department of Primary Industries for weeds information in New South Wales. You can customise the app to show information specific to the local area by selecting Wingecarribee as your "area of interest"

WeedWise allows users to search for particular weeds, provides information on methods of control, and lists the biosecurity duty for each weed.  

Download WeedWise


The Biosecurity Act and risk management

From 1 July 2017 the Biosecurity Act 2015 (the Act) and its subordinates came into effect replacing all or part of 14 Acts including the Noxious Weeds Act 1993.

The Act provides modern, flexible tools and powers that allow effective, risk-based management of biosecurity in New South Wales, increases efficiency and decreases regulation in responding to biosecurity risks, and provides a streamlined statutory framework to protect the state's economy, environment and community from the negative impact of pests, diseases and weeds.

Adopted from the original author Philip Blackmore, State Priority Weeds Coordinator – South East and Murray:

The purpose of the Biosecurity Act 2015 is to prevent, eliminate or minimise the biosecurity risk that is caused by the spread of weeds.

Weed spread in this case means the introduction and establishment of weeds in an area where they did not previously occur. This is different from an increase in weed density in an area where the weed has already established but at varying densities across numbers of properties.

To be considered as a target for compulsory control under the Biosecurity Act, a weed species will have potential to cause harm to individual and community interests, can be effectively controlled by reasonable and cost effective means and will currently have limited distribution within a region but have the potential to spread and to establish in areas where the weed does not currently occur.

Proposals for imposing or continuing to impose compulsory weed control requirements on landholders are carefully considered by the South East Regional Weed Committee using a scientifically reliable method.

Where a weed is already widespread in the environment, compulsory control measures are unlikely to provide any personal benefit to many landholders and only provide a marginal benefit to the community.

Serrated tussock has been widespread in parts of the Southern Highlands for more than 50 years. As such, it is a poor candidate for compulsory control, especially as flupropanate, the most effective selective herbicide, is no longer being manufactured.

Regional weed planning and compliance efforts will continue to focus on preventing, eliminating and minimising biosecurity risks caused by new weed incursions to a region. Imposing compulsory control measures at an early stage of a weed’s spread is cost effective and the best use of limited resources.
This approach minimises the number of individuals who are affected by the weed and those who are burdened by the duty to implement control measures. Conversely, managing weeds that have become widespread across a region is a private benefit and is not something that can be achieved by using a regulatory approach.

Wingecarribee Shire Council is a Local Control Authority and can assist landholders to implement cooperative action against widespread weeds such as blackberry and serrated tussock. Should you need further advice on management of a healthy pasture, seek advice from a Local Land Services agricultural advisor or from a private agronomist. 

Environmental weeds

Environmental weeds are plants that continually invade and threaten our diverse bushland, wetlands and other natural areas. Many environmental weeds originate in home gardens.

Environmental weeds are distinct from noxious weeds in that noxious weeds are acknowledged as the most serious weeds in the environment, and landholders are required under state laws to control them. 

However, environmental weeds also cause major problems in the local environment and should also be controlled. By controlling environmental weeds now, we can prevent them from becoming more damaging to our environment in the future.


Environmental weeds in the Southern Highlands

Council's brochure Environmental Weeds in the Southern Highlands(PDF, 2MB) profiles the 15 worst environmental weeds in our Shire, as well as providing a list of recommended alternative native and exotic plants for your garden. 

You can also see a basic Environmental Weeds List(PDF, 78KB) for the Southern Highlands, which includes Council's suggested alternatives for your garden.   

General Biosecurity Duty for priority weeds

The General Biosecurity Duty (section 22 of the Biosecurity Act) states that:

“Any person who deals with biosecurity matter or a carrier and who knows, or ought reasonably to know, the biosecurity risk posed or likely to be posed by the biosecurity matter, carrier or dealing has a biosecurity duty to ensure that, so far as is reasonably practicable, the biosecurity risk is prevented, eliminated or minimised.” 

The NSW WeedWise app contains more than 300 priority weeds, describing;

  • Plant profiles
  • Control methods (including registered herbicide options)
  • Biosecurity duties (under the Biosecurity Act 2015)

The South East Regional Strategic Weed Management Plan supports regional implementation of the NSW Biosecurity Act 2015 by articulating community expectations in relation to effective weed management and facilitating a coordinated approach to weed management in the region.

The plan identifies state and regionally prioritised weeds and outcomes to demonstrate compliance with the General Biosecurity Duty.

FAQ about weeds and the Biosecurity Act

Weed control requirements for land owners and managers under the current regulatory framework are explained through a series of questions and answers below.

Understanding both your individual responsibility and when and how government authorities will step in is just as important as having knowledge of our local priority weeds.

What's legislation governs management of weeds?

Previously in NSW, weeds were governed by the Noxious Weeds Act 1993. This legislation was prescriptive and imposed strict control requirements on land managers to control certain weeds, including locally important weeds such as Serrated Tussock, African Lovegrass and St John’s Wort.

On 1 July 2017, the Noxious Weeds Act 1993 was repealed and the Biosecurity Act 2015 (the Act) became the primary legislation governing weeds. Most locally important weeds are no longer identified on a ‘noxious weeds list’, nor does the legislation impose strict requirements in many cases.

The Act creates a general legal duty called the General Biosecurity Duty (GBD). GBD means that everyone has a responsibility to prevent, eliminate and minimise biosecurity risks associated with weeds – so far as reasonably practicable.


Who is responsible for administering legislation?

Wingecarribee Shire Council, as the Local Control Authority in our shire, is the primary agency administering weeds legislation under the guidance of NSW Department of Primary Industries. Council is assisted in this role by partners including Local Land Services, industry and local agronomists.


What are Council’s responsibilities in relation to weeds?

Council has a number of important functions related to weeds biosecurity, including:

  • Preventing the entry of new weeds
  • Finding, containing and eradicating emerging weeds
  • Minimising the impacts of weeds that cannot be eradicated

In fulfilling these functions, it is important that Council maintains an active property inspection program targeting private and public properties, roadsides and high-risk sites – including nurseries, rest areas, campsites, boat ramps and other high visitation areas where new weeds may gain entry to the region.

Council is also responsible for managing weeds on its network of roads, reserves and operational lands and invests considerable funds into managing these weeds for the benefit of the local community.


What am I required to do under the Biosecurity Act 2015?

A number of state priority weeds are identified in Schedule 2 of the Act. These weeds are referred to as Prohibited Matter. These weeds have not established self-sustaining populations in NSW and pose a significant risk to human health, the economy and/or the environment. All dealings with these weeds are prohibited and Council must be immediately notified if you become aware of or suspect the presence of these weeds.

Some examples of prohibited matter include:

  1. Parthenium Weed (Parthenium hysterophorus)
  2. Anchored Water Hyacinth (Eichhornia azurea)
  3. Hawkweed (Hieracium spp. - all species except Hieracium murorum)

Biosecurity zones and control orders apply to a limited number of weeds which have very limited distribution and abundance in NSW and pose a high biosecurity risk. For these weeds, eradication is considered feasible and control measures must be implemented by landowners and managers to assist in eradication efforts.

Schedule 3 of the Biosecurity Regulations 2017 lists the weeds to which mandatory measures apply. This list includes Serrated Tussock, Fireweed, Chilean Needle Grass, Gorse and  a number of other weeds that have previously been referred to as Weeds of National Significance. A prohibition on sale and importation applies to these weeds.

What about weeds not specifically legislated?

Most local priority weeds are no longer subject to specific control requirements under current legislation.

State and regional weeds committees have assessed each weed species using a rigorous process and determined that either they have a low risk rating, or it is not feasible to contain or eliminate them. The latter applies to most locally important weeds, in that they pose a high risk to the economy, environment and/or community, though are too widespread and established for regulation to provide any tangible benefit to the community.

Investment in weed management, including the imposition of compulsory control measures, is most cost effective when applied at the early stages of a weed’s invasion.

The South East Regional Strategic Weed Management Plan provides guidance on the outcomes needed to meet your GBD and it outlines strategic actions for local weed management, resource allocation and investment.


What does Council do to help landowners?

Council continues to provide the same onsite weed identification and advisory service for all weeds, regardless of their status.

Council acknowledges that weeds have a significant impact on our community and encourages active participation in coordinated weed control programs.


What if you can’t identify a weed?

Send us photographs or arrange an onsite inspection and one of our staff will promptly respond.

There are thousands of weed species, so if it’s one that we’re not familiar with we can forward photos on to our state-wide networks or send a sample to the herbarium for a positive identification.

Download the WeedWise app for detailed information on how to identify and manage weeds.

Visit the Department of Primary Industries (DPI) website for more information on weed control methods:



What changes have been made to Council's biosecurity program?

Biosecurity (weeds and pest animal species) governance and administration sit within the Council's Environment and Sustainability branch.

In April 2023, a new Biosecurity (Weeds) Officer joined Council and will begin conducting inspections of the following:

  • High Risk Pathways – eg roads, major waterways
  • High risk sites – eg nurseries, stockpiles
  • Main roads
  • Rail corridors
  • Private property
  • Public land (including Council, NPWS, State government etc.)

The biosecurity team will develop helpful fact sheets to assist local residents with managing weed incursions within the shire.