Fieldwork underway on the Burrup Peninsula in the Pilbara region of Western Australia

Delivering broad conservation benefits by controlling a threatening transformer weed in the Pilbara.

In 2017 the GBI-NCB Fund financed an eight-year project that aims to improve conservation outcomes for native plants and animals of the Pilbara region in Western Australia. The research program represents a close collaboration between the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) and the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (DBCA).

Invasive alien weeds represent one of the greatest threats to biodiversity conservation. Recent research and expert opinion has identified stinking passionflower, a vine from central and south America, as one of the most widespread and threatening transformer weeds in Australia’s north west.

The principal focus of this research program is to mitigate the threat to biodiversity posed by stinking passionflower through the development of long term sustainable management options. Outcomes of this proposed program include:

• identifying where management interventions will provide the greatest environmental benefits and cost-effective returns ;
• developing long-term sustainable management focusing on biological control solutions, and
• deploying these solutions to land managers to achieve wide scale conservation benefits.

The project will include fieldwork across the introduced range of stinking passionflower, surveys for potential biocontrol agents in the native range, as well as controlled condition studies and laboratory work.  These outcomes will be supported by collaborations with local land managers and stakeholders impacted by the invasion.

Due to the varied nature of the impacts of the stinking passionflower invasion, it is anticipated that the project will have benefits for the conservation, agriculture and resources sectors directly and the tourism sector indirectly.  Project findings will be communicated to this diverse range of stakeholders with a view to showcasing how effective landscape-scale weed management can be achieved for this and other broadly distributed threatening weeds.

Stinking passionflower invading Millstream NP in the Pilbara region of Western Australia