​Media Release

​No stone unturned in protecting forests from exotic pests

21 March 2018

  • Coalition Government delivering investment of $896,500 for a National Forest Biosecurity Surveillance Strategy 2018–2023 announced on International Day of Forests
  • Strategy will increase monitoring of exotic forest pests, including Xylella fastidiosa
  • Better surveillance and early detection will help safeguard industry and minimise response costs

Australia's forests will get more protection, through the Coalition Government's five year strategy to stop exotic pests that could threaten our forests.

Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, David Littleproud, announced $896,500 in seed funding for the National Forest Biosecurity Surveillance Strategy 2018–2023 today, which coincides with the International Day of Forests.

"Top of our most wanted plant pest list is Xylella fastidiosa, but we also have Gypsy moth and pinewood wilt nematode in our crosshairs," Minister Littleproud said.

"We are targeting exotic pests that have the potential to devastate natural and plantation forest ecosystems, putting at risk forests, wine and other horticulture industries and associated jobs.

"Australia's forest industry employs around 67,000 people and generated $23.7 billion of income in 2015–16. Tens of thousands more are employed in horticulture. 

"It's so important we protect our forests and our horticulture industry from diseases and pests. 

"Xylella fastidiosa is a bacterial plant pathogen that can even wipe out entire orchards in the citrus, grape and other horticultural industries, impacting the livelihoods of growers.

"The Gypsy moth is a keen hitchhiker and has a high reproduction rate, which is why it poses a high risk to Australia's forests.

"The Pinewood wilt nematode is a tiny worm and is responsible for losses of more than 2 million cubic metres of wood per year in the USA.

"This is an operation that must succeed—jobs, industries and trade all rely on this—these exotic pests have the potential to cause significant environmental, economic and social harm.

"The new strategy will see an even closer working relationship with Plant Health Australia and the forestry industry to keep exotic pests out of Australia."

The program will be overseen by a National Forest Biosecurity Surveillance Group, headed by a National Forest Biosecurity Surveillance Coordinator, who will work out of Bunbury, Western Australia—liaising with industry, state governments and other forest industry stakeholders.

To view the National Forest Biosecurity Surveillance Strategy 2018–23, visit planthealthaustralia.com.au.

Fast facts:

  • Australian wood product exports were worth $3.4 billion in 2016-17; the volume of logs harvested increased by an estimated 9 per cent to 33 million cubic metres; and the value of total logs harvested increased by almost 12 per cent to $2.5 billion.
  • The forest industry employed 67,000 people in 2016–17, mainly in regional Australia.
  • Sales and service income in forest product industries was $23.7 billion in 2015–16.​