Our 2019 Froggatt Awards recognised outstanding achievements, including those of Milo Yeigh, who saved the NSW town of Lismore from invasion by yellow crazy ants.
Queensland’s Southern Downs Regional Council won its Froggatt Award for recognising landholders for taking action on pests and weeds and former federal agricultural minister David Littleproud for creating the country’s first ever Office of Environmental Biosecurity.
Awarded to Southern Downs Regional Council in Queensland for their pioneering and innovative Invasive Pest Control Scheme that rewards landholders for undertaking pest and weed management.
The scheme was introduced in 2017 and applies to more than 5000 rural properties in the council area.
Landholders are charged a pest levy ranging from $500 to $6000 depending on the property value. If a land owner can demonstrate they are implementing a property pest management plan and meeting their general biosecurity obligation under the Biosecurity Act, the fee is waived.
The most common pests targeted by the program include African boxthorn, blackberry, rabbits, wild dogs and velvety tree pear.
Those that don’t prepare and implement a suitable pest management plan pay the pest levy, which funds the council’s pest management program.
An independent evaluation of the scheme’s operation over the past two years found majority support for the program, a 24,000 ha reduction of areas without declared pests, a 16% increase in landholder awareness of invasive pests and a $3300 boost in spending on pest control per property.
The Invasive Pest Control Scheme assists with greater landholder engagement, increased pest control and reduced areas affected by pests. The scheme has potential for broader application across Australia.
Awarded to Milo Yeigh, who first spotted and reported seeing yellow crazy ants in Lismore, leading to their rapid eradication.
Milo, who has a keen interest in ants, discovered a yellow crazy ant infestation in Lismore’s central business district in May 2018. After reporting it to NSW’s Biosecurity Hotline, the state’s Department of Primary Industries and Local Land Services immediately carried out further surveillance and then eradication.
Milo’s ant spotting was presented with a Biosecurity Warrior award on June 2018.
The yellow crazy ant is listed among 100 of the world’s worst invasive species, and can cause serious damage to the environment, agricultural production and human amenity. They form highly cooperative super colonies and spray acid when attacking pets or native animals and birds, which may cause blindness.
A $30 million program is already underway to eradicate yellow crazy ants from the Cairns region where they threaten the Wet Tropics World Heritage rainforests.
Milo’s ant spotting and reporting demonstrates the value of citizen surveillance in preventing invasive ants such as yellow crazy ants from establishing in NSW.
Awarded to the Hon David Littleproud for the creation of the Office of Environmental Biosecurity and the appointment of Australia’s first ever Chief Environmental Biosecurity Officer, Ian Thompson.
The creation of this permanent office arose from a recommendation of the independent review of Australia’s biosecurity system, led by Wendy Craik in 2017.
The Chief Environmental Biosecurity Officer is supported by a dedicated office of four staff and oversees the delivery of an annual $825,000 project fund to drive investment in “environmental biosecurity capability and capacity”.
In its first year, the office has made significant progress on defining the pests and diseases we should be worried about, led responses to new pests and diseases entering the country, built stronger relationships with the community and provided a leadership role on environmental biosecurity at the federal level.
Improving environment biosecurity will take time and further resources given the historical origins of Australia’s modern biosecurity system founded on agricultural risks.
The award acknowledges David Littleproud’s leadership in implementing a major structural change to the federal biosecurity system to better address the risks of pests, weeds and diseases that could harm the natural environment.
In 2017 our Froggatt Awards went to the independent panel reviewing the national biosecurity system and Nic Gill, author of Animal Eco-Warriors: Humans and Animals Working Together to Protect Our Planet.
In 2015 our Froggatt Awards went to Australian Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Barnaby Joyce, NSW red imported fire ant response and Senate Environment and Communications References Committee.