New Zealand's geographic isolation means that the country is free from many pests that damage crop plants, disrupt natural ecosystems, and endanger human health elsewhere in the world.
The Biocontrol & Biosecurity team works closely with border control agencies to maintain this competitive advantage by helping to prevent the establishment of new pests from overseas. It has been estimated that just a 1% decrease in the rate that foreign species become established in New Zealand could save around $100 million per year.
The team’s research covers the gamut of border biosecurity activity, developing new techniques for pre-border risk assessment, pathways risk analysis, diagnostics, post-border surveillance, and eradication and response. Their work has already contributed to the successful eradication of several high-profile pests, and has improved the way that border authorities conduct some of their activities. The same skills that help to prevent unwanted organisms from establishing are also used to ensure that deliberately introduced organisms do not harm the environment.
Researchers work closely with collaborators from other research institutes through the MSI-funded Better Border Biosecurity (B3) programme, and with scientists in Australia, America and Europe.
Collaborations include Plant & Food Research, Scion, the Bio-Protection Research Centre at Lincoln University, the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF), the Environmental Risk Management Agency (ERMA NZ) and the Department of Conservation (DOC).