Charles Darwin University
enews home

Weeds researchers receive award

By Jaana Dielenberg

Weed researchers (from left): Associate Professor Samantha Setterfield, Professor Michael Douglas, Dr Natalie Rossiter-Rachor, Professor Lindsay Hutley, Dr Keith Ferdinands, and Damien McMaster Weed researchers (from left): Associate Professor Samantha Setterfield, Professor Michael Douglas, Dr Natalie Rossiter-Rachor, Professor Lindsay Hutley, Dr Keith Ferdinands, and Damien McMaster

A team led by Charles Darwin University researchers has been awarded Best Research in NRM at the 2014 Territory Natural Resource Management Awards dinner at the Darwin Convention Centre. 

The award recognises the team’s success in expanding the understanding of weeds in the Northern Territory and significantly influencing weeds policy and management.

The research has given land managers a better understanding of the ecology, distribution and impact of weeds, particularly invasive grasses, on a range of ecological services including fire regimes, carbon and nutrient cycling. 

This has underpinned the development of a weed risk management system, which is now used by the Northern Territory Government in its decision-making and prioritisation of weed management activities to control invasions and prevent further spread. As a result of the research several high-risk exotic species were declared as weeds. 

CDU Associate Professor Sam Setterfield has led the research for more than 15 years.

“The team was honoured to have our research contribution to weed management recognised by Territory NRM,” Dr Setterfield said.  “This is the outcome of a long collaboration with a number of agencies, including the Northern Territory Government's Weeds Branch and Bushfires NT.”

The team is at the forefront of research into invasive high biomass grasses, such as Gamba grass. High biomass grasses are much taller and denser than native savanna grasses and create very high fuel loads. One of the findings of the research has been a clear pattern of more intense fires and declining biodiversity in areas where high biomass grasses establish and spread.   

The team is part of the National Environmental Research Program (NERP). Read more about their NERP projects: Gamba grass effects on savannah carbon and fire and Managing threats to floodplain biodiversity and Indigenous values.