Evaluating the costs and benefits of managing new and existing biosecurity threats to Australia’s plantation industry
Australia’s forest and wood products industry faces a significant challenge in mitigating biosecurity threats to plantation forest productivity. This project seeks to clarify the nature of established and new biosecurity threats and the costs and benefits of mitigating their impact under a range of scenarios using a series of cost-benefit analysis case studies.
The nature of established and new biosecurity threats are clarified and the costs and benefits of their management evaluated under a range of scenarios and three case studies (Japanese Pine sawyer beetle, an exotic pest yet to become established in Australia, Sirex wood wasp, a pest of exotic pine plantations and Chrysomelid beetles, a pest of Eucalypt plantations).
Previously, industry was not able to make informed decisions about prioritising research funding for managing biosecurity threats because there were few, if any, cost-benefit analyses to provide a benchmark for Australia. This project addresses this need directly by:
- Analysing the risk posed by exotic pests to the Australian plantation forest industry.
- Benchmarking current forest health surveillance and biosecurity activities in Australia.
- Presenting three case studies on the costs and benefits of managing forest pests. Two, focus on pests that are already established — an endemic, native defoliating pest (chrysomelid leaf beetle) of Tasmanian hardwood plantations and an established exotic pest (Sirex woodwasp) causing mortality in Pinus plantations. The third is a scenario for an exotic pest incursion into a Queensland pine plantation estate (Japanese pine sawyer beetle carrying pinewood nematode).
We found that the risk of exotic pest incursions is increasing, despite international regulations regarding some high-risk pathways (e.g. wood packaging) as well as pre-border and border inspections programs. Additionally, the report benchmarking found that investment in forest biosecurity has not kept pace with the escalating risk.
The report recommends that a high priority for industry should be early investment in research guiding management or control against key pests; a current example is Giant Pine Scale. In addition, greater investment in a national forest biosecurity program is an effective way to minimise future risk to the national forest estate.
The outcomes reported here will give the industry greater certainty that future investments in forest biosecurity and preparedness RD&E are cost effective and will deliver genuine, long-term benefits.