The Centre for Invasive Species Solutions (CISS) have announced a suite of projects aimed at helping Australian farmers in their fight against invasive species.
The Australian Government has committed $20 million to the Centre to assist in funding their first 21 research, development and extension (RD&E) projects which will look at better ways of preventing, detecting and managing pests, including through the use of DNA.
“Farmers face huge costs, productivity losses and the spread of diseases at the hands of pests and weeds and keep fighting to stop them in their tracks,” Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources David Littleproud said.
According to the National Farmers’ Federation’s President Fiona Simson, the funding is an example of how partnerships across both Private and Public Sectors can collaborate to find real, on the ground solutions to managing invasive species.
Which invasive species are the of the highest priority?
Invasive species can range from animals to plants and disease-causing organisms which are foreign to Australia’s natural environment.
In agriculture invasive species can cause extensive damage to the soils and vegetation leading to millions of dollars’ worth of annual losses.
The CISS Chief Executive Officer Andreas Glanzing said the projects are presently focused on developing solutions to continue to manage rabbits, wild dogs and deer while eliminating the risk of new threats.
“Our Wild Dog Alert project is a potential game changer. It is a camera with automated facial recognition which could notify land holders when wild dogs are nearby, giving them the upper hand to be able to take action, before the damage occurs,” Mr Glanzing said.
Wild dogs alone are conservatively estimated to cost the farm sector up to $89 million per year.
Feral deer are an emerging threat to Australian agriculture. The Centre will look at how to cost effectively manage deer, understand their role in spreading diseases and to develop clear strategies for management.
The Centre is also maintaining the momentum of rabbit biocontrol work to ensure the maintenance of Australia’s national rabbit biocontrol capability.
“We will achieve this by both monitoring of current biocontrol and looking at new strains of calicivirus and a parasite so that we can continue to successfully manage the impacts of pest rabbits on the land,” Mr Glanzing said.
All projects by CISS are delivered through their members and partners, and in collaboration with farmers, who will be the key players in managing the threats and implementing the new projects.