Oral Presentation Science Protecting Plant Health 2017

The risks and costs of exotic pests to Australia’s forest industry, conservation forests and amenity trees (4033)

Angus J Carnegie 1 , Simon Lawson 2 , Tim Wardlaw 3 , Nick Cameron 1 , Tyron Venn 2
  1. NSW Forest Science, NSW Department of Industry, Parramatta, NSW, Australia
  2. Forest Industries Research Centre, University of the Sunshine Coast, Marrochydore, Qld, Australia
  3. Forest Management Services Branch, Forestry Tasmania, Hobart, Taa, Australia

Australia’s forest products industry contributes $21 billion to the national economy and employs around 120,000 people across the value chain, and is a vital part of rural and regional communities. Australia’s 123 million ha of native forest and woodlands provide a wide range of benefits, including social (recreation), environmental (conservation) and commercial (e.g. forestry, tourism, honey). What is often overlooked is the ecological, economic and social value of our amenity forests and trees in urban and peri-urban environments, and these trees are often the first point of establishment of exotic pests. Here we investigate the risk of exotic pests to Australian forests and calculate the economic costs when they establish. A review of current biosecurity activities and survey of industry revealed that forest biosecurity in Australia is currently under-resourced, but there are opportunities for greater involvement from industry, government and other stakeholders. Border interception data was analysed along with trade data (commodities that vector pests) to gain an understanding of the risk of exotic pests arriving to Australia. We found an increase in interceptions of important pests over the past 15 years, concomitant with an increase in trade. From the list of interceptions, we identify key pests that threaten plantation forests, conservation forests and amenity trees. We then conducted an exotic pest incursion scenario, using pine wilt disease, to explore the financial impact of exotic pests establishing in softwood plantations in Australia, and the benefits of conducting biosecurity activities to lower the chance of them establishing. The outcomes from this project will be used to get greater stakeholder engagement and involvement in forest biosecurity in Australia.