Over 150 plants and animals have been declared as pests in Western Australia. Pests are a huge financial threat to agriculture, they cause serious damage to fragile ecosystems and the populations of native species and can even affect health and social amenity.
Controlling pests is not a task that government agencies such as the Department of Agriculture and Food and the Department of Parks and Wildlife can manage on their own. The scale of the task requires cooperation and collaboration amongst all stakeholders.
For this reason, both government and non-government landowners have a legislative responsibility for managing pests on their land and a collaborative approach is built into the state’s legislative framework. Implementing that approach is a work in progress. Putting an integrated state-wide plan in place would help clarify roles and responsibilities and reduce the tendency for agencies to focus on their core business rather than taking a joined up approach to the pest problem.
Landholders made it clear to us through our survey and consultation that they understand and accept their responsibilities for managing pests, and do not expect government to do everything. They also made it clear that their continued willingness to meet their responsibilities depends on all landholders, including government agencies, managing pests on their property, and being held accountable if they do not. The current lack of enforcement activity puts that willingness at risk, and reduces the incentive for all landholders to be good neighbours.
Individual landholders, community groups and government agencies all commented on how resource constraints impact on their pest management responsibilities. The community will naturally look to government to provide leadership and to be significant contributors to the financial burden of controlling pests. Agencies need to prioritise and target their resources based on good information on both pests and the effectiveness of management programs. Information in both these areas needs to improve to make sure that priorities are soundly based, and significant threats are not missed. Agencies must also choose the right way to fund and implement pest programs to ensure that those who benefit most contribute fairly to the cost.