How we conduct a plant risk analysis

We undertake a risk analysis to assess the biosecurity risk associated with importing plants and plant products. We also identify ways to manage risks to an acceptable level.

The standards we use are set by the International Plant Protection Convention.

Step 1 Identify and categorise potential pests

We identify quarantine pests that could be present on the plant or plant product being imported. A pest must meet all the following criteria to be considered a quarantine pest.

The pest:

  • is present in the exporting country
  • is absent in Australia or under official control
  • has potential to be on the pathway
  • has potential for establishment and spread
  • has potential to cause economic consequences.

Step 2 Assess the likelihood of a pest entering, establishing and spreading in Australia

To assess the overall likelihood, we look at the likelihood of a pest’s:

  • entry
  • establishment
  • spread.

To make an assessment we investigate the pest’s:

  • biology
  • survivability in the Australian environment
  • mobility.

We also look at the commercial production practices in the exporting country.

Determining the overall likelihood

Using a table with two axes, we combine qualitative likelihoods using a set of rules. These are based on indicative probability ranges.

A pest’s overall likelihood will either be:

High – moderate – low – very low – extremely low - negligible

Step 3 Assess the consequences if a pest enters and spreads in Australia

We determine the overall consequence rating by combining the impact scores of a range of possible consequences.  These are based on economic and environmental factors:

  • plant life or health
  • direct environmental impacts
  • eradication and control costs
  • non-commercial values and indirect environmental impacts
  • domestic trade
  • international trade.

We also assess the risk factors at each of these geographic levels:

  • national
  • regional
  • district
  • local.

We assign impact scores for each of the consequences and geographic levels.

To determine the overall consequence rating we assess these impact scores against a rule set.

Step 4 Estimate and assess the overall risk a pest poses to Australia

We determine the unrestricted risk of a pest by combining the overall likelihood and the overall consequence.

This is the level of risk that would be present if there were no safeguards in place.

A final unrestricted risk rating will be provided of either:

Negligible – very low – low – moderate – high – extreme.

Appropriate level of protection

Australia’s appropriate level of protection is set to ‘very low’. This means that any pest risks higher than very low will require risk management measures before the plant commodity can be imported.

Read more about appropriate level of protection.

Step 5 Determine measures required to reduce the overall risk of a pest

Risk management options are available to reduce the biosecurity risk of a quarantine pest.

Risk reduction measures

The following measures are examples of ways to reduce the risk of quarantine pests.


Visual inspection may be conducted in the exporting country and once the consignment enters Australia.


Irradiation, fumigation, heat or cold are ways to treat goods.

Systems approach

Application of management activities at different points along the supply chain. For example, pest control during production, and pest-proof packaging after harvest.

Area freedom

Goods may be sourced from areas known to be free from pests.

If the risk reduction measure is effective, then the appropriate level of protection may be low enough to satisfy Australia’s ALOP.

Import pathway for plants and plant products

There are biosecurity requirements that all commercially imported plants and plant products must meet to enter Australia. View the below infographic ‘Import pathway for plants and plant products’ to learn what these may include.


See our downloadable resources on the steps to completing a plant risk analysis.

Document Pages File size
Plant Commodity/Country Risk Analyses PDF 8 1.1 MB
Plant Commodity/Country Risk Analyses DOCX 8 60 KB
Import risk analyses steps PDF 2 8.9 MB
Import risk analyses steps DOCX 2 50 KB
Biosecurity Import Risk Analysis steps PDF 1 7.9 MB
Biosecurity Import Risk Analysis steps DOCX 1 47 KB
Import pathway for plants and plant products PDF 2 5.5 MB
Import pathway for plants and plant products DOCX 2 52 KB

If you have difficulty accessing these files, visit web accessibility for assistance.

Last reviewed: 13 September 2021
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