Post-border forest biosecurity in Australia: response to recent exotic detections, current surveillance and ongoing needs.
Assessing exotic pest response and eradication programs can identify factors that will lead to increased pest detection and provide information for prioritizing and enhancing future eradication attempts. We review the forest-related insect and pathogen detections and responses in Australia between 1996 and 2017. Thirty-four detections of new exotic forest species were made in this timeframe; seventeen each of insects and pathogens. Twenty-nine of the species are now established in mainland Australia and another in the Torres Strait. Four of the established species cause high impact, and three of these were subject to failed eradication programs. Two of the four established high-impact species were not previously recognised as threats; indeed, 85% of all new detections were not considered high-priority risks. Only one forest pest has been successfully eradicated, suggesting a lower success rate of Australian forest eradication programs than the world average. Most of these exotic pests and pathogens were not detected early enough to attempt eradication, or they were not deemed a significant enough pest to warrant an eradication attempt. Early detection is key to successful eradication. We discuss current surveillance programs in Australia and the methods (general, specific), locations (urban, regional, amenity, plantation, nursery, native forest), and surveillance type (public, industry, ad-hoc researcher, forest health surveillance, high-risk site surveillance, pest-specific trapping) that detections were made under. While there has been an increase in detections using specific surveillance since 2010, there remains a need for a structured national approach to forest biosecurity surveillance, preparedness, and responses.