Australia’s Chief Plant Protection Officer (ACPPO), Dr Gabrielle Vivian-Smith, is the primary representative of, and an advisor to, the Australian Government on all matters relating to Australia’s plant health status and its supporting systems.
As head of the Plant Protection and Environmental Biosecurity Division, she provides strategic leadership and engagement on all matters relating to plant protection and environmental biosecurity. This:
- improves plant health and environmental biosecurity outcomes for Australia
- helps meet relevant national and international obligations
- helps minimise the impacts of current and emerging biosecurity risks to Australia’s agricultural production and trade, environment, Indigenous and cultural heritage, and associated amenities.
Dr Gabrielle Vivian-Smith describes her journey on becoming the ACPPO and her vision for the role.
My name is Gabrielle Vivian-Smith and I’m the Australian Chief Plant Protection Officer and I’m an agricultural scientist; and I’m also a plant ecologist.
I work to protect Australia’s plant-based industries and also our plants in our natural environment from exotic and harmful plant pests and diseases.
I worked for quite a few years in the research world and much of that time I was working as an ecologist looking at plant ecosystems and trying to restore them, and also as a weed ecologist as well looking at invasive plant species.
Well, I’ve always been interested in plants, and I’ve worked in various capacities throughout my life on plants, pretty much the whole time, so it seemed like a very natural thing to do to become the Australian Chief Plant Protection Officer.
I work with people across the globe. Closer to home, I work with a whole bunch of interesting bug security specialists from plant pathologists to entomologists and all kinds of different specialised experts. I also work with other states and territories, their chief plant health managers, and representatives from plant industry bodies. And then internationally, I work with people like myself, so people who represent their national plant protection organisation, and we work on plant health standards, we work on implementing things that improve global plant health.
Australia has a really excellent biosecurity system and it also has that really inviable plant health status, so we’ve got something very precious; so what would it mean for Australia, it would mean that we would continue to be able to trade on our clean and green image, and it would help also keep Australia’s natural heritage, so some of our very special ecosystems from being damaged from exotic plant pests and diseases.
I hope to essentially help keep Australia safe, or Australian plants safe from plant pests and diseases. I really want to accomplish preventing plant pests and diseases from entering the country and from establishing and causing harm.
Role and Activities
The Australian Chief Plant Protection Officer represents the Australian Government on plant health issues of national and international interest. The role leads national plant health policy and provides high-level advice to senior executives and government. The ACPPO works closely with the Australian Chief Environmental Biosecurity Officer.
The ACPPO works on activities that maintain our plant health status, including preparedness and response to plant health issues such as incursions of emergency plant pests. This involves close collaborations with state and territory governments, plant industries and Plant Health Australia, the not-for-profit national coordinator of the government-industry partnership for plant biosecurity in Australia.
The ACPPO represents the Australian Government in national arrangements for plant health including:
- Plant Health Committee (PHC)
- Consultative Committee on Emergency Plant Pests (CCEPP) - Chair
- Emergency Plant Pest Response Deed (EPPRD)
- Plant Health Australia (PHA) - member meetings
- Plant Biosecurity Research Initiative (PBRI)
The ACPPO also represents Australia in international plant health engagement including:
- International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) as Australia’s official contact point
- Commission of Phytosanitary Measures under the IPPC
- Asia and Pacific Plant Protection Organisation
- Pacific Plant Protection Organisation
- The Global Alliance for Plant Health
- International Day of Plant Health activities.
Priorities for the ACPPO include:
- Strengthen preparedness capability of national plant health systems
- Deliver advancements in plant health surveillance, detection, and control
- Build, maintain and advance the national and departmental plant health diagnostics capability and capacity
- Support response, recovery and resilience efforts in the plant biosecurity space
- Support, influence and engage in relevant regional and international policy discussions and standard setting, representing Australia’s interests
- Build, strengthen and influence key partnerships and stakeholder relationships to improve plant biosecurity outcomes
- Raise awareness and engage with key stakeholders on plant health matters to improve understanding of shared biosecurity responsibility and facilitate collaboration among stakeholders.