Collaborative approach to overcoming biosecurity risks
Over two days in Queensland this August, the forestry industry and representatives from various other agricultural sectors united to consider biosecurity in Australia, including its incidence and what can be done in future to improve the mitigation of biosecurity risks.
The inaugural Plant Biosecurity Research Symposium took place on 15 and 16 August in Brisbane, with the key purpose to identify areas for future investment in R&D with cross-sector and trans-Tasman benefits.
Attended by 220 growers, researchers, students and biosecurity staff, the two-day symposium saw presenters from across Australia share their insights and latest research results regarding pests, diseases and weeds affecting plant-production systems and their surrounding environments.
The event, which was hosted by the Plant Biosecurity Research Initiative, also included presenters from New Zealand, highlighting the country’s work on common biosecurity threats with the intention of future collaboration with Australian researchers.
The program included keynote speakers, presentations from research teams and panel discussions on future priorities for R&D. Importantly, it provided a forum for plant biosecurity networking and collaboration across industries.
As part of the symposium, PhD candidate Duncan Jaroslow, Graduate Researcher, Ecology, Environment & Evolution at La Trobe University, gave a presentation on his FWPA-funded research project, which is seeking to understand the biology, ecology and impact of the introduced giant pine scale on Pinus radiata in Australia.
PBRI Program Director Dr Jo Luck said managing biosecurity is crucial to the productivity of Australia’s agricultural sector and its access to valuable export markets.
“The Australian biosecurity system relies on strong partnerships between industry, the Australian Government, state and territory governments and regional communities. With significant cross-industry value of $29 billion at stake, cross-sector collaboration is particularly important in effectively mitigating biosecurity risks,” Dr Luck said.
Jodie Mason, Forest Research Manager at FWPA, who was in attendance at the symposium, said one particular key message that hit home came from Lyn O’Connell, Deputy Secretary, Department of Agriculture, regarding the expected increase in biosecurity risks over the next decade.
“Ms O’Connell said the residual risk to our agricultural industries will increase by 70 per cent by 2025, if we maintain current levels of investment in our national biosecurity system. This highlights the vital importance of increased investment and collaboration around the related issues to safeguard our industry’s future,” Ms Mason said.
Ms Mason also highlighted a number of presentations that were of particular relevance to the forestry sector, including one from Dr Angus Carnegie, Senior Research Scientist at the Department of Primary Industry's Science and Research Division, on the preparedness of Australia for the arrival of a new exotic tree pest, considering the important lessons learned from other recent arrivals.
Meanwhile, Paco Tovar, National Forest Biosecurity Coordinator at Plant Health Australia gave a presentation on multi-stakeholder forests surveillance programs, while Dr Tim Wardlaw, Honorary Research Associate at the University of Tasmania spoke on the importance of remaining alert and nimble in the maintenance of pest management practises in long-lived forestry investments.