Overview of projects funded during 2018-19 as part of the Environmental Biosecurity Project Fund

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.  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

Status: November 2019

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

Status: Ongoing. Due March 2020.

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.

Collaborator: Plant Health Australia

Status: Ongoing. Due June 2020.

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.

Collaborator: Plant Health Australia

Status: Ongoing. Due June 2020.

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

Status: Ongoing. Due December 2020.

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 area.

Collaborator: New South Wales Department of Primary Industries

Status: Ongoing. Due April 2021.

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

Status: Ongoing.

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

Status: Completed

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

Status: Completed

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

Status: Completed

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.

Status: Completed


Last reviewed: 4 November 2019
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