Australia’s plant biosecurity system is showcased in the latest publication from Plant Health Australia (PHA), the National Plant Biosecurity Status Report for 2011. The report demonstrates the lengths Australia goes to in a bid to protect Australia’s $27.5 billion agricultural, horticultural and forestry industries from plant pests.
Dr Tony Gregson, Chairman of the PHA Board, said Australians tend to take our relatively pest-free environment for granted. “Because of our geographical isolation and the strong performance of our national plant biosecurity system, Australian producers don’t face the same pest problems that many other countries do. But we cannot afford to be complacent,” he said.
The National Plant Biosecurity Status Report lists the 300 high priority pest threats that could seriously reduce the ability to grow particular crops in Australia, or to sell our produce, should they establish here.
Keeping these pests out is not an easy matter with increasing movement of people and goods to Australia from all over the world. It’s a complex problem that requires a coordinated, national solution.
“Australia is fortunate to have strong cooperation between governments and industries to make such a solution happen,” said Dr Gregson. “The Status Report demonstrates this by describing the main players in plant biosecurity in Australia and the agreements that tie them together.
“The report also details the behind-the-scenes work that goes on: the major plant pest surveillance programs that are in place across the nation, the diagnostic laboratories and protocols we possess, and the hundreds of plant biosecurity research projects that scientists are working on.
“It’s an impressive array of activities that instils confidence in the security and viability of Australia’s plant production industries, as it should,” he said.
According to Greg Fraser, PHA’s Executive Director and CEO, the report plays a very important role for Australian agriculture, horticulture and forestry.
“This comprehensive volume aids decision making and guides the deployment of resources and the application of risk-based approaches to biosecurity, making a direct contribution to preserving our valuable pest free status,” said Mr Fraser.
“It’s also very reassuring for local and overseas markets to see how much effort goes into maintaining our reputation as a producer of high quality food and agricultural products,” he said.
This year the Status Report also includes a section on Australia’s weeds of national significance and weed management. It contains case studies on biosecurity in forestry, collaboration on fruit fly identification, and transition to management projects for effective ongoing management of myrtle rust, Asian honey bee and branched broomrape.
The National Plant Biosecurity Status Report for 2011 is available on the PHA web site.