Soil from a First World War battlefield in northern France, destined for a war memorial in South Australia, has been aided on its 16,000km odyssey by Australian biosecurity officers.
Deputy Secretary of the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, and Head of Biosecurity and Compliance, Dr Chris Locke, said the soil from Dernancourt in France had been approved for importation and would travel to Australia encased in a secure, two-litre container.
“The department is satisfied the metal container and the interment of the soil satisfy all import conditions and it can be imported without undergoing further treatment,” Dr Locke said.
“Imported soil can present a significant biosecurity risk to Australia due to contamination with a range of pests and diseases exotic to Australia.
“It could contain exotic plant seeds, fungi or viruses of biosecurity concern that may affect Australia’s wildlife or production animals, which could be catastrophic for Australia if they got a foothold.
“Australian travellers returning from culturally significant sites such as Gallipoli and the Dardanelles sometimes seek to bring home sand and shell casings found at those sites. All items, no matter how culturally significant, must meet Australia’s strict import conditions.”
Before being imported to Australia, the soil was farewelled in a ceremony on 4 July held in Dernancourt, France, by the French Centenary Association of the First World War.
The soil will be interred in a memorial being built by the City of Tea Tree Gully (CTTG) in the suburb of Dernancourt in Adelaide. On hearing about the memorial plans, former Mayor of Dernancourt and President of the Association World War One Lionel Lamotte, offered the organisers a soil sample from the battlefield as ‘the project illustrates the strength of the link between our two countries’.
If you are thinking about importing an item that may contain soil, you can learn more about our import conditions here.
Images of the Dernancourt memorial for media use can be found here.