Woodchat Podcast – Protecting Australia’s forests from the threat of exotic pests and diseases

December 14, 2023

Biosecurity measures play a crucial role in strengthening Australia’s efforts to prevent, respond to, and recover from exotic pests and disease incursions. Proactive steps to strengthen the industry’s response to such threats are vital for the protection of our forests, environment, communities, and economy.

The latest episode of Forest Wood Products Australia’s (FWPA) WoodChat podcast series focuses on three current local research projects with the goal of strengthening biosecurity activities in Australia, and across the broader Asia-Pacific region.

Listeners will hear about a collaborative effort between government, the forestry industry and community, with the goal of enabling early detection of exotic forest pests and improving the likelihood of their eradication. The National Forest Pest Surveillance Program – also known as Forest Watch Australia – commenced in July 2022, and recently completed its first full year of activity.

During the episode, Sam Watson catches up with Lucy Tran-Nguyen, GM of Partnerships and Innovation at Plant Health Australia (PHA), which is leading this work, to find out more.

“The main objective of this initiative is to achieve national consistency in conducting surveillance at high-risk locations and surrounding areas, to target a list of exotic pests that could pose a high risk to the forestry industry and community, and ensure early detection,” Lucy said.

“At each of the target sites traps are set up to attract the pests. These traps are checked regularly, and we look at what is caught, and any necessary protective actions can then be taken depending on what is found.”

Lucy also talks about another FWPA-supported biosecurity project, this time involving the development of a new mobile app.

The MyPestGuide® Trees app equips all forestry stakeholders with the tools to do their bit and help minimise the damage caused to Australian forests and trees by the presence of exotic pests and diseases. The app is designed to promote, encourage, and make it easy for everyone to get involved with reporting new potential pest sightings in high-risk areas – from professional foresters, to researchers, local government representatives, staff at parks and gardens, and citizen scientists.

Another key biosecurity project currently being conducted in Australia is working to build an effective and sustainable forest health and biosecurity network not just on our own shores, but across the whole of Southeast Asia.

Listeners will hear from Dr Madaline Healey, Research Fellow at the University of the Sunshine Coast’s Forest Research Institute, who is leading this important work.

This episode is the latest in the ever-growing and fascinating WoodChat back catalogue, which encompasses a diverse array of fascinating forestry-related topics.

You can listen to WoodChat on Soundcloud, iTunes and Spotify.