Identifying the best management strategies for keeping new invasive pests and diseases out of K’gari can be mindbogglingly difficult. Some pests are more likely to arrive than others, but the damage they’ll do might be less.
Some pests might arrive via people, boats, and planes. Others may be carried by the wind or hidden in landscape supplies and packaging. Some pests are easy to eradicate or control if they do make it to the island. For others, we’re near helpless in limiting damage.
The options available to managers to reduce biosecurity risk include quarantine measures, public education, and search and destroy. The merit of options depends on our understanding of the likelihood of entry, establishment and spread of priority pests and pathogens and the consequences of their spread, with and without different management intervention.
FINIA representatives recently wrestled with these ideas in a dedicated workshop held on the island. Insights helped build a decision-making framework for use in biosecurity planning on K’gari and elsewhere. The framework helps managers navigate the many and challenging cause-and-effect and value judgments needed to identify effective and targeted action.
At the workshop, we thought through the best strategy for a small subset of pests and pathogens (the weeds bitou bush and cat’s claw, mosquito fish, and the fungal pathogen Phytophthora). The exercise was designed to road test the framework.
To inform priority investments for biosecurity on K’gari, we’ll extend the framework and analyses over the next couple of months to the full worry list of species shown in the accompanying box (right).
Contributed by Dr Terry Walshe, Centre of Excellence for Biosecurity Risk Analysis, University of Melbourne