About the plan
This national threat abatement plan (TAP) has been developed to address the key threatening process (KTP) 'Ecosystem degradation, habitat loss and species decline due to invasion of northern Australia by introduced gamba grass (Andropogon gayanus), para grass (Urochloa mutica), olive hymenachne (Hymenachne amplexicaulis), mission grass (Cenchrus polystachios syn. Pennisetum polystachion) and annual mission grass (Cenchrus pedicellatus syn. Pennisetum pedicellatum)'. This KTP was listed under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) in 2009.
This TAP is considered to be a feasible, effective and efficient approach to abating the threat to Australia's biodiversity from the five listed grasses spreading across northern Australia. Its focus is on identifying and protecting key environmental assets. It provides a framework for prioritising investment in threat abatement and identifies actions required to ensure the long-term survival of native species and ecological communities affected by these grasses.
In 2010 both perennial mission grass and annual mission grass were reclassified from the genus Pennisetum to the genus Cenchrus. The TAP and related background document follow the current Australian naming convention for the mission grasses, adopting this re-classification. These documents refer to perennial mission grass as Cenchrus polystachios syn. Pennisetum polystachion and annual mission grass as Cenchrus pedicellatus syn. Pennisetum pedicellatum.
The overarching goal of this TAP is to minimise the adverse impacts of the five listed grasses on affected native species and ecological communities. To achieve this goal, the TAP has six main objectives that were developed in consultation with experts in relevant jurisdictions. These objectives are to:
- develop an understanding of the extent and spread pathways of infestation by the five listed grasses
- support and facilitate coordinated management strategies through the design of tools, systems and guidelines
- identify and prioritise key assets and areas for strategic management
- build capacity and raise awareness among stakeholders
- implement coordinated, cost-effective on-ground management strategies in high-priority areas
- monitor, evaluate and report on the effectiveness of management programs.
This TAP should be read in conjunction with its associated background document, which provides information about each of the grasses, their impacts on the environment, their social and economic impacts and values, and their current management.
Threat Abatement Plan review
The threat abatement plan was reviewed in 2021 to assess the progress and effectiveness of the plan. There is evidence to suggest that current control efforts are not adequate in controlling the spread of the listed grasses, nor abating the threat to northern Australia’s biodiversity that they pose. The plan’s purpose is to be a high-level document that can help shape the way that these grasses can be controlled, however, despite many on the ground efforts, this is not occurring. General feedback that was received whilst researching current control efforts was that there aren’t enough monetary and boots-on-the-ground resources available to conduct the intensive actions that are needed to control the grasses. The review concluded that the issues and the objectives raised in the 2012 TAP are still valid in 2021 and likely to remain so into the future, however, the TAP could be revised to reflect the present priorities and include the amendments suggested by the review.
Threat abatement plan to reduce the impacts on northern Australia’s biodiversity by the five listed grasses - Review 2012-2021 (PDF - 812 KB)
Threat abatement plan to reduce the impacts on northern Australia’s biodiversity by the five listed grasses - Review 2012-2021 (DOCX - 1.1 MB)