Skip navigation

Buffel Weed Declaration: a win for community organising and the Arid Lands

The Arid Lands Environment Centre welcomes this historic decision to declare buffel grass a weed across the Northern Territory.

This has been a decades-long struggle to confront one of the greatest threats to the arid and semi-arid lands. Buffel grass is transforming landscapes and changing fire regimes. It is already found in every mainland state and the Northern Territory and has the potential to spread across 68 percent of the continent. In 2014, Federal Government Buffel Grass Threat Abatement Advice was released, in 2015 buffel was declared a weed in South Australia and today the Northern Territory joins the call for national coordination and resourcing.

Over 50 Central Australian organisations across culture, health, tourism, land management, unions and environment called on the Northern Territory Government to decare buffel grass a weed.

This is significant political recognition that is a win for community organising. Just last weekend, 29 June 2024, Name Arrwengkelthe (grass sickness): how to heal country and stop the spread of buffel grass took place at Olive Pink Botanic Gardens, attended by over 300 concerned Central Australians including key advocates and various senior knowledge holders.

The program included a panel with Garth Forrester (CLC), Roni Opden (Weeds Branch), Chris Day (Senior Director Parks), Paddy Laughton (Stride Resources), Tracey Guest (DCCEEW), Alex Vaughan (ALEC) and Cherisse Buzzacott as MC. Veronica Dobson AM, Camille Dobson, Amunda Gorey, Peter Latz and Doug McDougall presented on deep ecological and cultural frames for caring for the central deserts.

Quotes – Adrian Tomlinson CEO Arid Lands Environment Centre

“This is historic and the result of decades of struggle to conserve and care for the arid lands. This is a significant win for community organising in Central Australia.” 

Quotes – Alex Vaughan, Policy Officer, Arid Lands Environment Centre

“Buffel grass smothers and burns entire landscapes here in the central deserts. It is an existential threat to the arid lands, changing fire regimes, transforming landscapes and impacting at least 31 threatened species nationally. Buffel grass impacts culture, bushfoods, bush medicines, public safety, public health, social wellbeing, the tourism industry and biodiversity conservation.

“Buffel grass is already found in every mainland state and the Northern Territory, it has the potential to spread up to 68 percent of this continent. National coordination and resourcing is essential, which must include a Weeds of National Significance listing. If Tanya Plibersek is serious about no new extinctions, a national plan to abate the buffel grass threat must be an urgent priority. 

“This is a vital opportunity to turbocharge research solutions at the landscape-scale. It is a national travesty that we still do not know how to properly manage the buffel grass fire threat. The spread of buffel grass has continued at an exponential rate across the arid lands, and decades have been lost, but it’s not too late. Lets work together to stop the spread of buffel grass across the arid lands.”

“Since the 1950’s, buffel grass was deliberately planted at scale across Central Australia as a pasture  grass and as a dust suppressant for overstocked and degraded lands. This moment makes clear that the ongoing proliferation of buffel grass is unacceptable. The arid lands are a site for healthy communities and Country. Our inland rivers, threatened species and sites of ecological and cultural significance must be conserved against the impact of buffel grass invasion. 

“This decision by the Northern Territory Government is legislation catching up to on-ground land management experience that buffel grass is a weed and needs to be urgently managed. Let's work together to care for the arid lands and address this key threat.” 

Media comment: Alex Vaughan, 0427 573 178

Media Liaison: Meret MacDonald 0456 475 810

High Res available - call Meret

Stills credit Sarah Dagleish

Stills credit Sarah Dagleish

Photos 2024 06 29 from Name Arrwengkelthe Olive Pink Botanic Gardens

1Panel - Left to Right: Garth Forrester, Tracey Guest, Chris Day, Paddy Laughton, Roni Opden Alex Vaughan
2Panelists - close up Paddy Laughton Roni Opden
3Q&A Faron Peckham
4Q&A Mervyn Rubuntja,
5Crowd Photo: Peter Latz and Doug McDougall presentation
6Camille Dobson, Veronica Dobson AM and Doug McDougall


Continue Reading

Read More