The Invasive Species Council today expressed its support for the intent of the NSW Government’s new Biosecurity Strategy, released today by the NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell, but questioned the capacity and commitment of the government to deliver.
ISC CEO Andrew Cox highlighted reduced staff and resources in the sector, the failure to adopt biosecurity targets and the absence of a plan to tackle specific sources of new invasive species such as aquariums and escaped gardens plants as barriers to delivery.
“The NSW Biosecurity strategy correctly seeks to prioritise tackling new and emerging pest and weed species and to adopt a risk-based approach,” Mr Cox said.
”We are pleased to see the importance of the natural environment and the critical role of the community in managing threats is recognised.
“However, how progress will be measured and whether the strategy will deliver are big unknowns.”
While the strategy suggests there will be more staff to work on biosecurity, no new resources are allocated. Over the last year the Department of Primary Industries has lost 50 staff in the biosecurity sector ($5.6M cut from DPI biosecurity) and the joint state/National Weeds of National Significance program loses its funding in June 2013. The strategy does have access to $40M in funds for weed and pest species on national parks from 2011 to 2015.
“We are sceptical that the strategy can deliver its desire ‘to increase numbers of well trained and resourced people’ when we heavily rely on a now much reduced public sector to implement or support biosecurity programs.”
“The strategy lacks targets to measure performance. It does not refer to the State Plan natural resource target that states ‘By 2015 there is a reduction in the impact of invasive species’. A strategy without measurable targets is like most new year resolutions.”
“To be effective, the strategy needs to directly address some of the more serious sources of new environmental weeds and pests – escaped garden plants, dumped or escaped exotic pets and aquarium fish. It needs to deal with the spread of deer, a pest supported by hunter friendly policies of government.
Action under the strategy is dependent on modelling ‘a return on investment’, which entails measuring the cost of the impact from a pest or weed against the cost of action. “This is likely to put the natural environment at a severe disadvantage, as it is very difficult to place a dollar cost on impacts,” Mr Cox concluded.
Andrew Cox can be contacted on 0438 588 040.
see our submission to the draft Biosecurity Strategy.
see our plan for Stopping NSW’s Weeds Crisis.
see the NSW Biosecurity Strategy.