Recognition that alien plants pose a significant threat to biodiversity has not always translated into effective management strategies, policy reforms, and systems to establish priorities. Thus, many alien plant management decisions for the protection of biodiversity occur with limited knowledge of what needs to be protected (other than biodiversity in a generalized sense) or the urgency of actions. To rectify this, we have developed a triage system that enables alien plant management decisions to be made based on (1) the urgency of control relative to the degree of threat posed to biodiversity, compared with (2) the likelihood of achieving a successful conservation outcome as a result of alien plant control. This triage system is underpinned by a two-step approach, which identifies the biodiversity at risk and assesses sites to determine priorities for control. This triage system was initially developed to manage the threat posed by bitou bush to native species in New South Wales (NSW), Australia. It has subsequently been improved with the national assessment of lantana in Australia, and the adaptation from a single to multiple alien plant species approach on a regional scale. This triage system identifies nine levels of priority for alien plant management aimed at biodiversity conservation, ranging from immediate, targeted action to limited or no action. The development of this approach has enabled long-term management priorities to be set for widespread alien plants that are unlikely to be eradicated. It also enables control to occur in a coordinated manner for biodiversity conservation at a landscape scale, rather than as a series of individual unconnected short-term actions.
Nomenclature: Bitou bush, Chrysanthemoides monilifera (L.) Norl.; lantana, Lantana camara L.