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Planting trees in Atlanta. © Aaron Coury

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Invasive Species: What You Can Do

Six easy ways you can prevent invasive species

We need your help to fight the spread of invasive species.

When these non-native plants and animals establish themselves in our local ecosystems, they outcompete and dislodge species that have evolved specifically to live there.

Invasive plant species can affect us by degrading our soil, leading to erosion that can lower the quality of our water. They crowd out and can kill important native trees and plants that provide shade, carbon storage and habitat for native wildlife. And they can even increase the risk of bushfire.

The best way to fight invasive species is to prevent them from occurring in the first place. You can help stop the introduction and spread of invasive species.

Help protect native plants and animals by following these six easy guidelines:

A highly invasive species in Australia
Lantana A highly invasive species in Australia © JLPC, Wikimedia Commons

1. Check the plants you are buying for your garden are not invasive

If possible, replace invasive plants in your garden with non-invasive alternatives. Ask your local nursery staff for help in identifying invasive plants.

For example: Although pretty, the Lantana plant forms dense, impenetrable thickets that take over native bushland and pastures on the east coast of Australia. It impacts 95 threatened plants species in Australia*.

in Port Phillip Bay, Victoria
Fishing in Port Phillip Bay, Victoria © Alyson Boyer-Rode

2. When boating, clean your boat thoroughly 

Remove all visible mud, plants, fish/animals from your boat, trailer, clothing, dogs, fishing gear or other equipment and dispose of in a suitable rubbish container or on dry land. This is to prevent inadvertantly transporting nasties to a different body of water.

Drain all water from boat, hatches, bilge, live wells, transom wells and any other locations with water on land before leaving the launch site. Remove the drain plug before towing to allow the boat to drain completely.

Never dump live fish or other organisms from one water body into another.

Hikers walking through grassland
Hikers walking through grassland © Mike Wilkinson

3. Clean your clothes, boots and gear 

Do this after each hike to get rid of hitchhiking weed seeds and pathogens. Pick off seeds from shoes and clothes, and check your gear to make sure seeds are not hiding in pockets or on Velcro straps

Keep to designated tracks to avoid spreading diseases into untracked areas, especially on wet ground. 

Chytrid is a fungal disease blamed for frog extinctions both here in Australia and overseas. Phytophthora is a root rot that destroys native plants. It's spread in mud and soil on walkers’ boots, bikes and vehicles.

Using certified, heat-treated firewood prevents the spread of invasive, tree-killing pests.
Heat-Treated Firewood Using certified, heat-treated firewood prevents the spread of invasive, tree-killing pests. © Byron Jorjorian

4. Don't "pack a pest" when traveling

Fruits and vegetables, plants, insects and animals can carry pests or become invasive themselves. Take extra care when moving across state borders.

Don't move firewood. They can harbour pests. Firewood that comes from healthy trees or that has been properly aged and seasoned can still attract invasive species when stored outdoors. The small eggs and larvae of invasive species are difficult to detect. They can hide or lay dormant on or under the bark, or inside the wood itself, escaping detection. If that untreated and raw firewood is moved, the invasive species can spread into new areas.

in an aquarium
Gold fish in an aquarium © C Watts, Flickr

5. Don't release aquarium fish and plants into the wild

This includes live bait or other exotic animals. If you plan to own an exotic pet, do your research and plan ahead to make sure you can commit to looking after it.

It's not just large fish that can cause havoc. Small ornamental fish species popular in aquariums can be just as great a threat to native fish species.

6. Volunteer

Check out opportunities in your local park, refuge or other protected area to help remove invasive species. There may be a "friends of" group near you where you can help manage a local protected area. 

is a fully accredited member of the Australian Charities and Non-For-Profits Commission
TNC Australia is a fully accredited member of the Australian Charities and Non-For-Profits Commission © ACNC

About us

The Nature Conservancy (TNC) has been protecting the environment for nearly 70 years. From our historic work in land acquisition to cutting-edge research that influences global policy, TNC is constantly adapting to take on our planet’s biggest, most important challenges. Our vision is to create a world where people and nature can thrive. With your support, we can put the best conservation science into action right now.

We strive to ensure your vital donations make the largest impact for nature now and for the future of our planet.

To date, our passionate supporters have helped us conserve around 127 million hectares of Australia’s lands and waters. That’s nearly the size of the Northern Territory! 

You can help make a difference by making a donation today >