Community groups across the South-West and Wheatbelt are breaking new ground in control of priority weeds and feral animals, and are calling on the support of local landholders.
Six new Recognised Biosecurity Group (RBGs) have been formed in the agricultural region, with support from the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development.
Department Director of Invasive Species Victoria Aitken said community-led control was vital to successfully managing widespread, established pests.
“These groups are recognised under the Biosecurity and Agriculture Management Act (2007), which means they can explore funding for control of declared pests through a rating process,” Ms Aitken said.
“These groups have been engaging with landholders about pest management priorities and a proposed declared pest rate for their area. Once established, it will be an ongoing process to have rates raised annually.
“Funds raised through this process are matched dollar-for-dollar by the State Government.”
The new RBGs include the Central Wheatbelt Biosecurity Association, Esperance Biosecurity Association, Southern Biosecurity Group, Peel Harvey Biosecurity Group and Blackwood Biosecurity Group.
Priorities range from foxes and wild dogs in the wheatbelt to rabbits, feral pigs and weeds of national significance in the south.
“The strength of this approach is that local biosecurity groups determine what pest species they consider important and what control they regard as a priority for their area,” Ms Aitken said.
“The first recognised group established in the agricultural region was the Eastern Wheatbelt RBG in 2015, which has worked with the department to implement a Declared Pest Rate across 11 shires to underpin successful wild dog control efforts in the area.”
The department will continue to provide support to biosecurity groups by assisting with planning and consultation for their operational plans.
Peel Harvey Biosecurity Group Chairman Vaughn Byrd said biosecurity was a complex issue, covering a spectrum of activity from quarantine at the border, to containing new incursions, to managing pests that already have a foothold in the landscape.
“The rate will help community and industry to keep on top of priority weeds and feral animals over the longer term – biosecurity groups want to make sure pest control is on everyone’s radar today and tomorrow,” Mr Byrd said.
“To be successful as a biosecurity group, we need to invest in education and building the capacity of landholders to take action to control pests on their properties.”
Media contacts: Jodie Thomson/Lisa Bertram, media liaison +61 (0)8 9368 3937