Poster Presentation Science Protecting Plant Health 2017

A decision tool to determine the technical feasibility of eradicating plant pests (#246)

Rebecca J Laws 1 , Suzy Perry 1
  1. Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Dutton Park, QLD, Australia

Determining if a plant pest is technically feasible to eradicate is a key decision during an emergency response to a plant pest, guiding the response management actions and arrangements under Australia’s Emergency Plant Pest Response Deed (EPPRD).  This decision is complex and often there are many limitations and uncertainties in the data available to support decision making.  The decision makers must consider a wide range of different factors that impact on the biology and ecology of the pest; environment and climate; farming practices; social practices and values.  Pest management options must be legal, practical and effective.  Decisions are also collaborative with both government and industry stakeholders involved decision making.  We worked with decision makers in biosecurity policy, operations and science, to develop a comprehensive structured decision making process to improve the process of determining if a pest is technically feasible to eradicate.  An extensive list of decision criteria were developed which was then consolidated and structured into a conceptual diagram.  This was formatted into several different decision tools which were evaluated by decision makers.  Six major decision criteria and 68 sub criteria were identified as influencing the decision.  A hybrid between a Bayesian network and a conceptual diagram was chosen as the format for the decision tool.  This tool allowed the accumulation of evidence for key decision criteria but these were not automatically predicted using probability tables, instead the decision maker had to make these individual decisions.  This modification was required because the diverse range of pests and infestation circumstances made it impossible to estimate probabilities that would encompass the huge range of diverse possibilities.  The tool was tested on four historical case studies which resulted in further small refinements of the tool.  Feedback from decision makers on the structure and utility of the decision tool will be discussed.