Following recommendations from a review of weed management in New South Wales (NSW) by the Natural Resources Commission in 2014, the NSW Environmental Trust decided to invest in biological control (biocontrol) research for priority environmental weeds in NSW. The project was initiated in 2016 with funding provided in different stages and is on-going. Its overarching goal is ‘To reduce the impact of weeds on the NSW environment through the selection and deployment of appropriate and effective biocontrol agents‘. The guiding principle has been to take advantage of previous or current biocontrol research projects in Australia or other countries to reduce significantly the cost, time and resources required to deliver new biocontrol agents. The project is overseen by a consortium of representatives from CSIRO (Project Leader), NSW Department of Primary Industries and NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (formerly referred to Office of Environment and Heritage). Wherever appropriate, some of the research is sub-contracted to various parties within or outside of Australia.
The project comprises different components, which capture the key steps of biocontrol programs:
- Development of a framework to prioritise weed targets for biocontrol research, and its implementation and regular reviews and updates.
- Research into new candidate biocontrol agents to gather the necessary information to support applications for release in Australia.
- Release and evaluation of new agents approved for release in Australia.