Report 18

Managing the Impact of Plant and Animal Pests: A State-wide Challenge

Key findings

  • The BAM Act’s purpose of providing for the state-wide management of pests has not yet been achieved as the framework under which government agencies, industry and community stakeholders set priorities, allocate funds and work in partnership is not fully established. Although the Council and the BSOG were established in 2008, Western  Australia lacks an integrated state-wide plan for managing pests and respective roles and responsibilities of government agencies are not clearly defined. This impacts the state’s capacity to manage pests and has led to gaps in pest management. DAFWA recognises that this is an issue and is working with the BSOG to develop a memorandum of understanding between agencies and a state biosecurity strategy for Western Australia.
  • There is no up to date picture of the spread, abundance and impact of established pests. Information is not aggregated and reported. Useful data collected by agencies,
    industry, community groups and landholders is not always shared, as mechanisms for effective and timely exchange of information have not been developed. As a result, it is difficult to determine if the impact of pests is increasing, or assess how effective control mechanisms are in managing pests that are established within the state. The lack of up to date information also limits the state’s ability to adapt pest management practices and target resources to changing threats and priorities.
  • DAFWA policies and procedures for declaring species as pests under the BAM Act were reviewed in 2012 but are still ‘draft’. There is also no public information to advise stakeholders on how to submit a proposal to declare a species a pest or the criteria used to assess the threat. This increases the risk that emerging pest species may not be identified or poor decisions will be made.
  • There was little evidence that the threat posed by declared pests that are established in the state are regularly reviewed or why one pest is prioritised over another for funding purposes. It is therefore difficult to assess the current status of declared pests or to give assurance that DAFWA’s limited resources to fund operational control programs are allocated on the basis of greatest return. However, DAFWA has recently started an assessment of the status of declared plants; and it plans to use impact assessment and cost benefit analysis to target its control programs at the highest priority pests. A similar process is planned for animal pests. Implementation deadlines have not been set.
  • There is limited monitoring and almost no enforcement of landowner responsibilities to control established pests. Since 2002-03 there has been a 55 per cent fall in the number of property inspections and a 99 per cent fall in the number of compliance notices, with only two issued in 2011-12. Monitoring and enforcement is a key element of a regulatory framework and there is a risk that some landholders will not control pests if there is no prospect of enforcement. DAFWA advised us that reductions in its resourcing has limited its capacity to conduct enforcement. However, it also advised that it intends to work more closely with community stakeholders to encourage landholders to meet their responsibilities to control widespread and established pests.
  • DAFWA records and reports activity based data such as the number of baits laid, area covered and pests killed for key pest control programs such as starlings, wild dogs, camels and European Wasps. However, this data does not measure how effective its operational activities are in reducing adverse impacts. DAFWA plans to develop a monitoring and evaluation framework to provide better information on outcomes but implementation deadlines have not been set.
Page last updated: December 12, 2013

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