The Environmental Biosecurity Project Fund

The Environmental Biosecurity Project Fund (EBPF) provides funding for eligible projects that help improve Australia’s capacity to prevent, prepare for, detect, identify/diagnose and respond to exotic environmental pests, weeds and diseases. 

Objectives

  • Raise awareness of environmental biosecurity
  • identify expertise and build networks
  • enhance surveillance for environmental biosecurity threats, and
  • improve Australia’s capacity for biosecurity preparedness and response.

Priorities

Aligning with the program objectives, there are four overarching priority areas.

Environmental biosecurity education and communication

  • Raise the level of understanding what environmental biosecurity means, the risks and its importance to Australia in the broader community
  • Raise community, Indigenous and non-government organisation and government understanding of the role of the Department DAWE in environmental biosecurity

Preparedness

  • Activities to support planning and preparedness for managing environmental biosecurity risks
  • Biosecurity planning for environmental pest risks
  • Extending risk-based RD&E into environmental biosecurity areas.

Surveillance

  • Assess surveillance conducted for environmental biosecurity risks
  • Improve use of current surveillance programs to identify environmental biosecurity risks

Response

  • Identify and train experts in environmental pests and diseases not covered by existing arrangements (reptiles and amphibian for example or freshwater aquatic pests and diseases).
  • Build capacity through training, planning or networking for environmental biosecurity response.

Since its inception, the EBPF has funded a variety of projects that are contributing to the CEBO’s objectives of protecting Australia’s environment, food security, culture and way of life.

The EBPF is a procurement program which means projects must result in the delivery of goods or services that benefit the Australian public. It is important to note this is not a grant program. To submit a proposal for consideration, please download the EBPF project proposal template and send completed template to ACEBO@awe.gov.au

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Funded projects

2019-2020

Australian Vertebrate Pest Conference 2021 sponsorship

The Australasian Vertebrate Pest Conference (AVPC) has a long and prestigious history as one of the regions keystone biosecurity related conferences bringing together practitioners, researchers, wildlife managers and policy advisors to network, share their stories and discuss the future of vertebrate pest management in Australia and beyond. This event was originally scheduled to be held in May 2020, but due to COVID-19, it has been postponed to late 2021.

Collaborators: Centre for Invasive Species Solutions, Established Pest Animals and Weeds Management Pipeline Program (DAWE)

Australasian Weeds Conference 2021 sponsorship

The Australian Weeds Conference will be running for its 22nd year and is a significant bi-annual conference for biosecurity, weed management, research and policy stakeholder from Australia, New Zealand and other countries in our region. It will provide insights into cutting-edge weed science and research, local and national innovative policy, new operational practices and tools, best practice on-ground management, chemical innovations, alternative weed control and on-ground case studies that help to protect Australia’s agricultural and environmental landscapes from the threat of weeds. This event was originally scheduled to be held in October 2020, but due to COVID-19, it has been postponed to late 2021.

Collaborators: The Council of the Australasian Weed Societies (CAWS), together with local host the Weed Management Society of South Australia (WMSSA)

Australian Wildlife Health Institute workshop

The University of Melbourne Australian hosted and run a workshop to discuss the establishment of a ‘Wildlife Health Institute (AWHI)’. The intent of AWHI is to integrate and formalise wildlife health arrangements across disciplines to devise practical and effective solutions that balance the health of wildlife and ecosystems on which we depend with human, societal, agricultural and economic needs.

It is proposed that AWHI will establish and lead a collaborative research and training alliance that will leverage and build on existing research and training capacity across Australian universities and research institutes to carry out research and training that is structured in a translational framework for the deployment of effective solutions for prioritised wildlife health problems. AWHI will create unified resources responsive to the needs of both policy makers and practitioners and will emphasise communication and engagement with both professional and public audiences.
The need for a strategic research and training approach for wildlife health and a dedicated structure to support it were the major recommendations from the Wildlife Health Australia Universities Workshop Report in 2007. This workshop acts on those recommendations and addresses the increasing need demonstrated since then.

Collaborator: The University of Melbourne

Illegal Wildlife X-ray Algorithm

To keep pace with increases in volumes of trade, especially in the international mail and express freight pathways favoured by wildlife smugglers, the department is looking to invest in smarter ways of screening for wildlife/animals. This project will develop automated 3D algorithms for the detection of illegally traded animals and wildlife in passenger and mail pathways. By partnering with Taronga Zoo, the project will bring together expertise in animal conservation, veterinary medicine, imaging and computer science to deliver a program that has a high probability of success in delivering a significant step towards reducing wildlife trafficking through the borders in Australia and New Zealand.                                            

Collaborators: Rapiscan Systems Pty Ltd and Taronga Zoo, Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment Biosecurity Innovation Program - Modern Seamless Border Clearance Project

Western Australia Ant Imagery Project

This project will generate high quality images of local and endemic ant species in Western Australia to assist in identification accurate and quick recognition of exotic ant incursions.

The high quality verified diagnostic materials that will improve biosecurity preparedness and response by supporting faster elimination of common local species of ants from trap and other samples. The images will facilitate faster eradication response times and provide materials for use in communicating ant-related issues to the general public

Collaborator: Western Australian Agriculture Authority

Atlas of Living Australia Biosecurity Alert Notification

The Atlas of Living Australia (ALA), is a National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS) database hosted and maintained by the CSIRO. It groups observational data (such as species identifications from throughout Australia) from many sources including museums and collections, government organisations, research organisations, and the citizen science sector.

This collaborative project between the Department and CSIRO will pilot digital protocols and business processes for information sharing and will enable the ALA to automatically inform the Department of any potential species of interest that are discovered in Australia through one of ALA’s network channels. The project will enhance our biosecurity surveillance coverage and further improve early intervention of exotic-species incursions.

Collaborator: Atlas of Living Australia CSIRO

Environmental Biosecurity Risk Mitigation Plan of Australian Native Bees

Australia is home to over 1,500 species of native bees. Alongside our hardworking European honey bees, our native bees play an important role in pollinating both native plants and commercial crops such as mango, blueberry, eggplant, tomato, almonds and macadamia. Pests and diseases of bees not only have the potential to devastate bee colonies, but may also impact on the health of native plants and ecosystems should our bees be unable to pollinate them. This project is investigating the potential biosecurity risks and pathways that may allow exotic bees or pests of Australian native bees to enter Australia. A plan to mitigate against these identified risks that is fit for purpose and links in with existing programs will be developed to guide what measures may be required to protect native bee populations as best as possible should an incursion occur.

Collaborators: Plant Health Australia,  NSW Department of Primary Industries, Dr John Roberts, Honey bee pathogen research scientist, CSIRO, Associate Professor Robert Spooner-Hart, Western Sydney University, Dr Dean Brookes, University of Queensland, Professor James Cook, Hort. Innovation Frontiers Pollination Program, Western Sydney University

Marine Pest Identification and Engagement Photo Album

Managing surveillance of Australia’s marine environment is a major challenge. The environment spans over 59 000 kilometres and attracts a diverse range of recreational and commercial users. Each user has the potential to contribute significantly to our national surveillance capability.

This project brings together a marine pest photo album of priority marine pest species to develop education with awareness materials for marine pest observer groups and other stakeholders. The album will also be used as a source of photos for other departmental activities including awareness and education.

The project also supports Australia’s national strategic Marine Pest Plan 2018-2023 for marine pest biosecurity and improve both passive surveillance and awareness of marine pest biosecurity risks, management actions and shared responsibilities.

Collaborator: Biofouling Solutions Pty Ltd

Mobile applications for identifying and reporting pest of forests and trees

Australia’s forests encompass native, planted and urban forests and represent the world’s seventh largest forest estate - managed and used by over 100 stakeholder groups. This project will enable the development of the MyPestGuideTREES App − a mobile surveillance application that combines forest/tree pest information with a reporting capability. This capability was identified as a gap in the National Forest Biosecurity Surveillance Strategy 2018-2023 and associated

Implementation Plan developed jointly by Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment and the Australian Forest Products Association (AFPA). 
This project will bring together expertise from state and territory governments, Plant Health Australia and forest sector partners to strengthen national surveillance capability and capacity amongst forest, plantation and urban tree user and manager groups.

Collaborators: Plant Health Australia; Forest and Wood Products Australia; Department of Agriculture, Water and Environment; WA Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development; Primary Industries and Regions SA; Agriculture Victoria; TAS Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and the Environment; NSW Department of Primary Industries; QLD Department of Agriculture and Fisheries; and, NT Department of Primary Industries and Resources

National forest pest surveillance training package

Plant Health Australia is working with a range of collaborative partners, including Forest and Wood Products Australia and state government agencies to produce a nationally consistent forest/pest biosecurity training program accessible to key stakeholder groups via PHA’s Biosecurity Online Training (BOLT) platform. The training package will support effective use of the MyPestGuideTREES app and develop a set of core surveillance training materials that can be contextualised for specific stakeholder groups.

This project will support objectives identified in the National Forest Biosecurity Surveillance Strategy 2018-2023 and associated Implementation Plan developed jointly by Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment and the Australian Forest Products Association (AFPA). 

Collaborators: Plant Health Australia; Forest and Wood Products Australia; Department of Agriculture, Water and Environment; WA Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development; Agriculture Victoria; TAS Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and the Environment; NSW Department of Primary Industries; QLD Department of Agriculture and Fisheries; and, NT Department of Primary Industries and Resources

Assessment of Browsing ant (Lepisiota Frauenfeldi) under the National Environmental Biosecurity Arrangement (NEBRA)

This project will deliver expert analysis, assessment and reporting on multiple national eradication response programs for Browsing ants (Lepisiota frauenfeldi) against the NEBRA criteria of national significance, level of surveillance activity required to provide confidence of eradication, and Benefit cost analysis. The project will also examine national environmental impacts and cost implications posed by Browsing ant and deliver assessment methodologies/guidance materials that can be used to guide other NEBRA programs in future.

Collaborator: Natural Decisions

Development of a National Diagnostic Protocol (NDP) for Ceratocystis fimbriata and related taxa

The National Priority List of Exotic Environmental Pests, Weeds and Diseases (EEPL) currently lists three species of Ceratocystis as a risk to Australia’s environment and amenity.

This project will develop Australia’s diagnostic capability to detect the fungal plant-pathogens Ceratocystis spp using genomic based methods. The development of this diagnosticcapability is highly specialised and requires botanical, mycologicaland molecular biological expertise. The end product will be made available nationally via the National Diagnostic Protocol (NDP) database.
The development of an NDP for the identification of Ceratocystis spp will assist in the identification and detection of the pathogen which can affect the health of both native species (Acacia and Myrtaceae) and production crops such as forestry, mangoes and sweet potatoes.

Collaborators: Plant Health Australia, Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Queensland (DAF Qld), the University of Queensland (UQ) and the Forestry Agricultural Biotechnology Institute at the University of Pretoria, South Africa (FABI).

Supporting Australia’s leadership in the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) thematic assessment on invasive species and their control

This project supports Australia’s representation on the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) Thematic assessment on invasive species and their control between 2019 and 2022. The completed report will generate policy options for invasive pest species management in Australia and globally, and provide an independent, expert perspective on the impact invasive pests may have on the Australian environment and agricultural sector. These insights will further the development of strategies and procedures for forecasting, preventing and controlling the spread of invasive alien species.

Collaborator: CSIRO

2018-2019

Northern Australian freshwater aquarium trade scoping study

The aquarium trade poses a major biosecurity risk to endemic freshwater ecosystems internationally and in Australia. This project addresses these identified issues through conducting a scoping study for improving understanding and management of aquarium trade related biosecurity risks in Northern Australia. To date this project has engaged key stakeholders to provide perspective and expertise into the development of the strategy. A draft report is currently being reviewed. This study will be used by the Northern Australian Quarantine Strategy (NAQS) to provide guidance around the development of surveillance activities and build response and preparedness capabilities.

Collaborator: James Cook University

National Environmental Biosecurity Response Agreement (NEBRA) Incidents Portal

Effective responses to environmental biosecurity incidences using NEBRA require readily access to key information. This project develops a web-based portal that will be a central repository of information for members of the consultative committees. These committees form in response to specific incidents and decide if it is technically feasible to eradicate a pest or disease. They are the National Biosecurity Management Consultative Committee (NBMCC) and Consultative Committee on Introduced Marine Pest Emergencies (CCIMPE).

Collaborator: Plant Health Australia

Environmental Biosecurity Plan for Australian Acacia Species

Acacia is the largest genus of flowering plants in Australia and is vulnerable to exotic pests that could have significant environmental impact on the keystone species. This project will finalise the Environmental Biosecurity Plan for Australian Acacia Species and produce a Biosecurity Implementation Plan, including priorities, actions and possible responsible organisations/ groups to carry out activities. It will also develop the high priority pest list for Acacia species, deliver a map of key stakeholders and identify risk pathways. The plan will describe various activities that can be undertaken to improve Australia’s ability to respond to the introduction of new Acacia pests.

Activities to date include stakeholder consultation to better understand current capacity among the broad stakeholder base. Experts are being engaged to establish the method for measuring environmental impact to be used in the environmental risk mitigation planning. A workshop to rate the environmental impact of Acacia pests is planned in November 2019 involving staff from NAQS and other subject matter experts.

Collaborator: Plant Health Australia

Environmental Biosecurity Plan for Mangroves and Associated Communities

Mangroves are critical parts of coastal ecosystems and deliver a range of ecosystem services, including erosion control, storm protection, waste treatment, carbon sequestration, and are breeding and feeding grounds for fish and other species. Many are close to first points of entry of ships and aeroplanes. This project develops an environmental risk mitigation plan for mangroves and associated communities, including (i) determining the biosecurity risks, risk pathways and review risk mitigation actions with input from external stakeholders; (ii) an environmental biosecurity risk mitigation plan; and (iii) deliver a stakeholder workshop to map the various roles and responsibilities.

Activities to date include stakeholder engagement; identifying activities currently occurring within mangrove ecosystems; and data sourcing to assist in the analysis of risk pathways. Tasks completed comprise a literature review and the development of a list of exotic biosecurity threats to mangroves and mangrove communities. An informal knowledge sharing workshop with up to four different ranger groups is planned for November 2019 at East Trinity Inlet, Queensland.

Collaborator: Plant Health Australia

Upgrading the wildlife disease database

The wildlife health database (eWHIS) is one of the key components of Australia’s general wildlife health surveillance system. This project ensures that Wildlife Health Australia can continue the provision of quality database and information services. Data collected in the eWHIS database is provided to the department for national and international reporting (e.g. OIE, IUCN), National Emergency Animal Disease Response plans; situation reports during emergency disease events; and serves as an early warning of diseases that may affect production animals, humans and the environment. An upgrade of the ageing system will deliver significant benefits to the database’s capacity for analysis, reporting and administration management allowing for increased automation of the reporting process and user efficiencies.

Collaborator: Wildlife Health Australia

ExtensionAus - Peri-urban general surveillance in NSW

General surveillance has been identified as a cost-effective form of continuous surveillance for early detection of many pests and diseases. Hence, strengthened general surveillance has been identified as a priority in key strategic biosecurity-related documents, including the Intergovernmental Agreement on Biosecurity (IGAB) and the National Plant Biosecurity Surveillance Strategy 2013-2020. This project will contribute to establishing general surveillance in peri-urban areas through the creation of an online Community of Practice to improve small landholder and community interest group involvement in general surveillance in the Greater Sydney and other peri-urban areas in NSW.

To date this project has secured involvement from representatives of various stakeholder organisations and experts to form the Community of Practice. A bootcamp and a planning meeting have been held to outline the scope and focus of the project and identify potential communities of interest, that is, community groups that could be engaged to participate in data collection and reporting activities. The Community of Practice’s website is expected to be launched at the end of 2019.

Collaborator: New South Wales Department of Primary Industries

Termite delimitation survey of Christmas Island – Coptotermes gestroi and Coptotermes michaelseni

Coptotermes gestroi and Coptotermes michaelseni are termite species that are invasive, destructive, and exotic to Christmas Island. Christmas Island is a Commonwealth External Territory and hence the Commonwealth is responsible for taking the lead on biosecurity incident responses on the island. This project involves a survey to collect adequate data to support the National Biosecurity Management Consultative Committee’s decision on whether C. gestroi and C. michaelseni are technically feasible to eradicate from Christmas Island.

Collaborator: Western Australian Department of Primary industries and Regional Development

Completed projects

Engage Natural Resource Management organisations in environmental biosecurity

The regional Natural Resource Management (NRM) sector has significant capacity and capabilities that could contribute to environmental biosecurity. This project delivered a workshop with senior officials from NRM organisations on 26 June 2019 in Sydney to introduce biosecurity, including what biosecurity is, the challenges and successes. The workshop explored the alignment between environmental biosecurity and NRM and where the NRM organisations can assist in surveillance and responding to environmental biosecurity threats. It also initiated high level discussion between those already involved in the biosecurity system and the NRM organisations.

Collaborator: Queensland Regional Natural Resource Management

Supporting the National Invasive Ant Biosecurity Plan implementation

Ants detected in and around Australia’s major ports as part of on-going surveillance activities need to be quickly identified to prevent the establishment and spread of invasive ants. A key necessity is to quickly distinguish exotic ants from native and endemic ants commonly found around ports. It is therefore important that ants commonly encountered around ports are easily identifiable. Action 1.2 in the National Invasive Ant Biosecurity Plan 2018-2028 stresses the importance of having resources available for the identification of native and exotic ant species that can be used by front-line biosecurity staff in the Department of Agriculture.

Production of high quality ant images

This project contributed images for five ant species to work already commissioned elsewhere in the department involving the production of a series of high resolution images of ants commonly found around ports.

Collaborator: Queensland Museum

Production of supporting material for high quality ant images

This project contributed supporting information for images of 10 ant species commonly found around major ports. Combined, the images and supporting information will be used to readily exclude ant species commonly encountered around ports when ant detections are made.

Collaborator: Magee Consultancy Services

Providing sponsorship funding for the 2019 Australian Biosecurity Symposium

This sponsorship provided the department with all the inclusions of a Diamond Sponsorship package for the 2019 Australian Biosecurity Symposium that was held 12-13 June. It provided an opportunity to recommend speakers who align with the department’s biosecurity priorities, including environmental biosecurity, and create awareness of key biosecurity issues among the wide variety of 300 attendees. The sponsorship contributed to environmental biosecurity education and communication.

Last reviewed: 9 September 2020
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