Protecting Western Australia from the threat of invasive plant and animal pests is a challenge. Our State’s natural advantages of ocean and desert borders have helped preserve much of our biodiversity and safeguard our agricultural industries. However, tourism and trade activity, which is essential to supporting our standard of living, as well as population growth test these natural advantages. Vast distances also make surveillance and enforcement of biosecurity regulations especially challenging, making productive cooperation with landholders to manage the threat essential.
WA produces nearly one fifth of the nation’s agricultural output by value and the South West is an internationally recognised biodiversity hot spot. With this economic value and natural heritage at stake, it is vital that the most serious threats are met with an appropriate and timely response. To do this effectively, entities need good systems to capture and store critical information about pest species, including the size, context and distribution of pest populations, and make it available to landholders so that properly informed risk-based decisions and actions can be taken.
The responsibility for managing the threat of invasive pest species is a shared one, but State government entities are charged with a regulatory role that cannot be delegated entirely. Striking a balance between this role and the need to engage landholders is important as a means of addressing the decline in regulatory activity (monitoring and compliance) we have observed since our last audit. It is also important to ensure that funds raised to assist landholders in managing pests on their lands are put to good use in a timely manner.