Changes to import requirements to protect against Xylella

​​​​​​Due to a change in host range, emergency measures for Xylella will be extended to nursery stock that belong to the following plant families, from 3 August 2020:

  • Cannaceae
  • Gesneriaceae
  • Linaceae
  • Polemoniaceae
  • Resedaceae
  • Scrophulariaceae
  • Simmondsiaceae
  • Strelitziaceae
  • Tamaricaceae.
More information about these changes are located in BICON.

The Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment maintains a range of import requirements for a number of plant species to safeguard Australia against the bacterial plant pathogen, Xylella (Xylella fastidiosa)

About Xylella and its risk to Australia’s plant industries

Xylella is a serious plant bacteria that affects a large number of common plants species including:

  • wine and table grapes
  • citrus
  • olives
  • forestry and amenity trees
  • almonds
  • cherries
  • peaches
  • plums
  • avocados
  • blueberries
  • coffee
  • pecans
  • alfalfa.

Xylella is not present in Australia but is of major concern to Australia’s plant industries.  If it gets into Australia it will be practically impossible to eradicate.

This bacterial disease originated in the Americas and has spread to Europe with recent detections in France and Italy. In the Americas it is causing hundreds of millions of dollars in damage.  Costs to California’s grapevines alone amount to $100 million per year.

Australia's import requirements

Emergency measures are currently in place to manage the risk of Xylella being introduced in imported host plants. These measures apply to tissue cultures, rooted plants, cuttings, budwood, some corms and bulbs being imported from the Americas, Europe and a number of countries in the Middle East and Asia, where the disease is known to be present.  

These emergency measures were introduced to strengthen previous import conditions that were put in place for Xylella and provide assurance that at-risk material is free from Xylella infection.

  • The additional import requirements came into effect on 19 November 2015 for regulated families imported from high risk countries. 
  • Country freedom certification requirements for low risk countries commenced on 19 January 2016.
  • Due to a change in pest distribution, Israel was recognised as a high risk country on 6 July 2019.
  • In August 2020, emergency measures will be further expanded to nine new plant families at risk of Xylella infection.

Key import requirements to manage the risk of Xylella include:

  1. Nursery stock and plant material grown in countries or regions where Xylella occurs will need to be tested offshore in accordance with Australia’s requirements, and certified as free from Xylella by the government of the exporting country.
  2. Material that does not meet the above requirements may be held and tested in an approved post-entry quarantine facility for 12 months or nursery stock material may be hot water treated, followed by standard post-entry quarantine screening arrangements. 
  3. An offshore approved arrangement in accordance with Australia’s requirements to ensure the health of plants will need to be in place for offshore certification of nursery stock from high risk countries.

The volumes of some ornamental plant material and tree species permitted entry to Australia may be reduced, and the costs of importing might increase. This is because laboratory testing will be required and longer observation times in quarantine may be necessary.

Some plant species currently categorised as high risk nursery stock are not affected by the changes because Xylella testing arrangements are already in place.

Phytosanitary certification will also be required for plants being imported from countries where Xylella does not occur, because we want assurance that these countries are free of the bacteria.

It will not affect the import of seeds because they are not known to transmit Xylella.

What you need to do

If you want to import plants into Australia, it is important that you check BICON before applying for an import permit.

If you have any additional enquiries contact the Plant Import Operations branch.

Related information

Last reviewed: 17 July 2020
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