Risk of exotic pests to the Australian forest industry.
The forest, wood and paper products industry is a significant contributor to the Australian economy, ranking as the eighth largest manufacturing sector, with gross value of sales in 2015-2016 in excess of $23 billion, and an industry value-add of $9 billion. As with other agricultural industries, forest, wood and paper production is under constant risk of introduction of exotic pests and diseases that could impact negatively on industry productivity. We review trade and interception data over a 15-year period to determine how the risk of exotic pests and diseases arriving and establishing in Australia has changed over time. Trade data show that the rapid increase in world trade, that is thought to be the major driver of increased interceptions worldwide, has also occurred for Australia. Analysis of Australian interception data for forest pests from 2004 to 2015 showed a general trend in increased numbers of interceptions over time of total pests, including high-priority pests, with a rapid increase in numbers of interceptions since 2010. A high proportion of interceptions were of species listed in the Plantation Forest Biosecurity Plan high-priority pest list, with nine of the 13 listed high-priority insect pests intercepted between 2004 and 2015. A high proportion of all forest pest interceptions had Pinus spp. as recorded hosts. Interceptions of beetles in the family Cerambycidae formed both the major proportion of interceptions and were the group showing the sharpest increase in interceptions since 2010. This raises questions on the effectiveness of International Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measure 15 (ISPM 15), which was designed to regulate the wood packaging material pathway, a major source of entry for this important group of forest pests.