Botanic gardens biosecurity webinar series

Join the Botanic Gardens Biosecurity Network for a series of eight webinars exploring plant biosecurity and surveillance in botanic gardens. 

From 20 May to 26 August 2020 the Botanic Gardens Biosecurity Network will host a half hour webinar every second Wednesday at 2 pm AEST 

Presenters will include experts in biosecurity and surveillance, representatives from several Australian botanic gardens, and members of other biosecurity networks. 

During the webinar series we will cover topics including the basics of plant biosecurity and surveillance, biosecurity and surveillance activities currently happening in Australian botanic gardens, pests in your backyard and specific pests such as myrtle rust.  


20 May – An introduction to biosecurity

Daniela Carnovale (Plant Health Australia) and Stephen Dibley (Agriculture Victoria) 

Ever wondered how we stop exotic pests from entering Australia? Listen in to explore what plant biosecurity is and why it is important to you and botanic gardens. This talk will also introduce you to the Botanic Gardens Biosecurity Network and the webinar series. 

About the speakers 

Daniela Carnovale is a project officer at Plant Health Australia (PHA). In this role she works with the surveillance team on a range of projects including the Botanic Gardens Biosecurity Network. Prior to working at PHA, Daniela worked as a scientific officer at Australian Environment Agency conducting environmental risk assessments on agricultural chemical and biological products. She has also worked as an education ranger at the Australian National Botanic Gardens. Daniela has a Phlooking at the effects of agricultural restoration on soil biotic communities. This work was conducted in collaboration with CSIRO and the Australian National University.  

Stephen Dibley in the Deputy Chief Plant Health Officer at Agriculture Victoria. In this role he provides technical and policy leadership for biosecurity programs in Victoria, including for plant pest responses, state-wide surveillance programs, domestic quarantine and market access Prior to this Stephen spent 11 years working at PHAin a range of roles from Project Officer to National Manager. Most of his time at PHA was as the training manager, where he raised awareness of the Emergency Plant Pest Response Deed, delivered simulation exercises covering pest responses and led the development of the National Plant Biosecurity Diagnostic Network. Stephen has a PhD in plant cell and molecular biology, where he worked on sugar uptake of tomato fruit. 

Watch here 

3 June – Surveillance 101

Louise Rossiter (NSW Department of Primary Industries) 

The only way we know for sure that we don’t have certain pests or to find them early is to go out looking for them where they are likely to be foundIn this talkLouise will walk us through what plant pest surveillance is and why it is important.    

About the speaker 

Louise Rossiter is currently the Leader, Plant Pest Surveillance at NSW Department of Primary Industries (NSW DPI). She is currently the chair of the Subcommittee for National Plant Health Surveillance. She has a PhD in entomology and has worked with managing agricultural and human health insect pests. 

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17 June – Keeping the garden green: Biosecurity in the botanic gardens of Sydney

Brett Summerell (Botanic Gardens and Centennial Parklands in Sydney)

Join Brett to hear about some of the major pests and diseases that impact the gardens, methods to prevent their introduction and spread and what is involved in diagnosing diseases. Across three botanic gardens, the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney, Blues Mountains Botanic Garden, Mt Tomah and the Australian Botanic Garden, Mt Annan over 17,000 different species of plants from all over the world are grown in environmental conditions ranging from pleasant coastal conditions, chilly winter conditions in the mountains and fierce heat in the western parts of Sydney. The potential for diseases and pests in all these combinations of conditions is enormous and creates a need for monitoring and surveillance to ensure the health of the collections. Added to this the gardens attract (in normal times!) over 5 million visitors annually, many of which are overseas tourists, all with the potential to introduce exotic pests and diseases. The Royal Botanic Garden Sydney is fortunate to be one of the few botanic gardens worldwide to have an inhouse plant pathology team that also operates a diagnostic service for the gardens and for the general community.  

About the speaker 

Brett Summerell is the Director, Research and Chief Botanist at the Botanic Gardens and Centennial Parklands (BGCP) in Sydney. Brett has been employed at the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney for over 30 years, initially as a plant pathologist and mycologist. From 2004 – 2019 he led the science and conservation programs there, including those at the National Herbarium of New South Wales and the Australian PlantBank. As the Director, Research and Chief Botanist he has responsibility for developing research priorities and partnerships, advocating for plant conservation and representing the BGCP in national and international forums. 

Watch here

1 July –  Looking out for pests in an urban garden

Urban Plant Health Network (UPHN) 

Join the UPHN for a webinar on biosecurity in urban gardens featuring the following presentations:

  • The urban food bowl and biosecurity: exploring the link – Dr Jess Lye (cesar)
  • Urban biosecurity case studies: Tomato potato psyllid and brown marmorated stink bug – Maddy Quirk (AUSVEG)
  • Looking out for and reporting pests – Lana Russell (Agriculture Victoria)

About the speaker  

The Urban Plant Health Network connects urban and community gardeners across Greater Melbourne with industry and government experts. The UPHN shares information and knowledge about exotic pest plants and diseases including: 

  • where to find them 
  • how to manage them 
  • who to contact if you see them. 

Through their website, Facebook page and Twitter account they publish seasonally relevant articles and posts about garden pests and diseases as well as tips for managing them.

Watch here

15 July – When will we have another world first? Surveillance and partnerships for plant biosecurity in Melbourne Gardens, Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria

Peter Symes (Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria)

The Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria comprises of two sites: Cranbourne Gardens and Melbourne Gardens. Cranbourne Gardens protects significant areas of remnant natural bushland and is home to the award-winning and world-renowned Australian Garden. Melbourne Gardens is famed for its stunning landscape and historic plantings. As a ‘Garden of the World’, Melbourne Gardens contains 8,000 taxa representing geographic origins from about 191 countries (98%) of the world. Safeguarding these living assets and preventing biosecurity threats to natural heritage and other industries requires early warning of exotic pest incursions. This presentation will highlight the risk context for botanic gardens, and case studies of surveillance techniques and effective partnerships as key components of a well-developed biosecurity program.

About the speaker

Peter Symes is the Curator Horticulture, Melbourne Gardens, Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria (RBGV). Since 1989, he has developed diverse expertise in strategic planning, technical support and management of large landscapes and living collections, including analysis and design of plant environments, integrated water management, plant biosecurity, and soil health. Peter is a lead author of the RBGV’s pioneering Landscape Succession Strategy to guide the future transition of the historic landscape through climate change. He continues this work as a member of the Secretariat for the Climate Change Alliance of Botanic Gardens. Peter has developed biosecurity policy & procedures and worked in close partnership with biosecurity agencies i.e. Agriculture Victoria to manage exotic pest incursions.

Watch here

29 July – Watch out for environmental pests 

Peri-urban Environmental Biosecurity Network (PEBN)

Join the PEBN to explore environmental pests such as cane toads, brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB), red-eared slider turtle, invasive ants and exotic bees within peri-urban communities in NSW. Learn how you can get involved in looking out for these pests and what to do if they show up on your farm or local native patch.

About the presentations

1. Introduction to the Peri-urban Environmental Biosecurity Network

Presenter: Elyse Herald-Woods, Director Strategy & Support, Environmental Biosecurity Office

2. Case study: Cane toads reported by the public

Presenter: Eva Twarkowski, Community Engagement Officer, Local Land Services, Hunter

3. Case study: Red imported fire ants (RIFA)

Presenter: Dr Adrian Nicholas, Senior Research Entomologist, Biosecurity & Food Safety, Department of Regional NSW

4. Reporting plant pests and diseases in NSW

Presenter: Rachel Taylor-Hukins, Plant Biosecurity Officer, Pest Surveillance, NSW DPI

About the speaker 

The Peri-urban Environmental Biosecurity Network connects NSW communities with experts who can help develop knowledge and skills in identifying and reporting exotic pests and disease that if left to establish will have a negative impact on our natural landscapes. By building capacity, improving community awareness and increasing participation in general surveillance of environmental biosecurity risks – that is, keeping an eye out for unusual animals, insects or new signs of pests and diseases and reporting them – the network will help protect natural landscapes from the impacts of exotic pests and diseases. 

Watch here

12 August – Living with Armillaria: a botanic gardens perspective

Philip Hurle, Horticultural Manager, Australian National Botanic Gardens (ANBG)

Armillaria luteobubalina is a soilborne fungus that causes root rot and wood decay of a wide variety of plants, including many Australian native and introduced ornamental plants. Join us to learn about the ANBG’s experience with Armillaria leuteobubalina and how the promotion of healthy ecosystems helps with its management.

About the speaker

Philip Hurle has been Horticultural Manager at the ANBG for 10 years, with 30 years experience working at the gardens in total. Philip has worked in various areas of the Living Collections unit during this time and has maintained a keen interest in pest and disease management throughout his career at the gardens.

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26 August – Myrtle rust

Angus Carnegie (NSW DPI)  

Myrtle rust (Austropuccinia psidii, eucalyptus rust or guava rust), is a fungal disease detected for the first time in Australia on the Central Coast of New South Wales in 2010. Join us to learn more about myrtle rust in Australia and how to keep an eye out for it.  

About the speaker 

Angus Carnegie is currently a Senior Principal Research Scientist with NSW DPI and an Adjunct Professor at Southern Cross UniversityA large focus of his work is operational forest health and biosecurity surveillance, providing pest and disease management advice to the forest industry, and improving forest biosecurity for both industry and government. His research is focused on improving the efficiency of forest health and biosecurity surveillance, impact assessment and management of pests and diseases in plantations and native forests, and taxonomy of eucalypt foliar fungi. He has a PhD in in forest pathology from the University of Melbourne. 

Watch here

How to watch 

Don’t worry if you can’t join us on the day, each webinar will be recorded and posted here.


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