The weed risk assessment (WRA) process is a science-based quarantine risk analysis tool for determining the weed potential of proposed new plant imports.
The department conducts WRAs on all new plant species proposed for introduction into Australia as seeds, tissue culture or any other material for propagation. WRAs are usually done at the species level but sub-specific taxa or hybrids are also occasionally assessed.
The WRA process is a three-tiered system that involves the importer and the department.
Determine status in Australia:
- present in Australia and not under official control or
- listed on the import conditions database (ICON) and/or
- listed on the permitted seeds list
Conduct a weed risk assessment
The first step involves validating the taxonomic name of the plant proposed for introduction. Importers can begin the process by checking ICON or the permitted seeds list (contained in schedule 5 of the Quarantine Proclamation 1998) for the plant proposed for introduction. If the species is absent from both of these lists, the importer must complete a new plant introduction form and submit it to the department. The department then completes Tier 1.
If the plant is not present in Australia, the species advances to Tier 2 - weed risk assessment.
If import conditions cannot be determined following a weed risk assessment, importers may be given the opportunity to provide more information for re-assessment of the species or to continue to Tier 3 - post-entry evaluation.
The WRA process was adopted 1997, following consultation with government agencies, nursery and seed industry associations, state noxious weed agencies, private importers, public and private sector scientists and weed experts from around the world.
The Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities was involved in developing the system and accepts the outcomes in its legislation (the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999).
In developing quarantine policies for the importation of plants and plant products, the department complies with Australia's rights and obligations as a signatory to the World Trade Organisation, under the Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS Agreement), and the International Plant Protection Convention.