Social aspects of weed management

This page presents a sample of findings from two ABARES research projects undertaken to examine various social aspects of weed management.

Systematic review of Australian weed-related social surveys

This report, produced by ABARES for the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation, presents the results of a review of Australian social survey research related to weeds. The social surveys reviewed in the report typically investigate factors such as stakeholders’ perceptions of weeds; what they do to address weed issues; what encourages or hinders them in taking action; and where they obtain weed-related information. The report analyses and discusses previously published research of this kind, the questions used in surveys, and the views of relevant experts about this research, and what directions future research should take.

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Key findings and report

  • Most previous research was directed at farmers and other rural landholders, and there was a relative neglect of other weeds stakeholders, including urban dwellers, culturally and linguistically diverse groups, and Indigenous people.
  • While the focus of future research may remain on weed management, there is a need to look beyond those people who are seen as being directly responsible for on-ground management of weeds to consider the broader weeds ‘social system’ and its various stakeholders with their differing roles and activities.
  • In light of the move towards a risk return model for biosecurity as recommended by Beale et al. (2008), there is a need to consider the risk pathways along which weeds can spread, and on the people, groups and activities involved in these pathways.
  • Little reference was made to weeds as a biosecurity issue in the literature, or in previous surveys, in spite of the increasing importance of biosecurity in the government policy arena. A biosecurity focus, rather than a traditional ‘weeds and pests’ focus, may help make this kind of research more relevant to a broader policy context, and therefore more policy-relevant and actionable in future.


DocumentPagesFile size
Systematic review of Australian weed-related social surveys PDF 1244.6 MB

Who’s involved with Weeds: Social Network Analysis of funding and information networks for weed management

This report, produced by ABARES for the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation, examines the funding and information relationships existing between different stakeholders involved in weed management in Australia. This research employed a social network analysis approach to investigate where community groups and institutions (such as local and state government agencies) obtain weed management information and funding.

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Key findings and report

  • The study found that involvement and interest in managing weeds is extensive and complex. There is large public interest in weed management with information and funding obtained from multiple places, largely dominated by local and state government departments and regional Natural Resource Management (NRM) bodies.
  • While a significant amount of funding for weed management was delivered through regional base level funding to NRM bodies, a large amount of additional information and funding was delivered through local and state/territory governments. Regional NRM bodies were not the major provider of information to other institutional respondents (primarily local government).

The findings of both studies could be used by researchers and research funding bodies in setting future research priorities, and designing and conducting further social research about weeds and weed management in Australia. Relevant government policy makers and program managers could use the findings to inform future policies and programs dealing with weed-related issues.


DocumentPagesFile size
Who’s involved with Weeds: Social Network Analysis of funding and information networks for weed management PDF 1203.6 MB
Last reviewed: 4 November 2019
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