Structured plant pest surveillance by botanic gardens staff

In parallel to the Botanic Gardens Biosecurity Network, Plant Health Australia has coordinated the Botanic Gardens Surveillance Network. This network consists of staff from botanic gardens across Australia with the aim of detecting pests on susceptible species as early as possible.

During spring-summer 2019-20 and 2020-21, this network conducted regular, structured surveillance for five target pests in several botanic gardens. All surveillance was recorded using the MyPestGuide™ Reporter app. The five target pests were:

The case studies below describe the surveillance activities of three of the participating gardens.

Kings Park and Botanic Garden, Perth

Western Australia has been less impacted by COVID-19 restrictions than most other states so the ability for staff at Kings Park and Botanic Garden to conduct surveillance has been relatively unimpeded.  The efforts at Kings Park and Botanic Garden have been led by Amanda Shade in her role as Nursery Curator and Trainee Coordinator. Amanda used participation in the surveillance network as an opportunity to train new staff. As Kings Park and Botanic Garden do not have any roses, they were only able to survey for four of the five pests. Staff recorded 126 surveillance reports across the two periods.

Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria, Melbourne

In November 2019, a group of eight volunteers were trained in completing surveillance on behalf of, and under the direction of, Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria, Melbourne staff. This was a trial for how this model of surveillance in botanic gardens might work. However, due to the lock down in Melbourne, movement in and around the gardens was highly restricted, and the group of volunteers haven’t yet had the opportunity to use their training. Where possible, surveillance for each of the target pests has been undertaken by Peter Symes, Curator Horticulture. He has recorded a total of 50 surveillance reports and surveillance was completed for all five target pests across a wide geographical area. Peter’s surveillance reports included one detection of myrtle rust which was reported on to the relevant people.

Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens, Hobart

As with Western Australia, Tasmania has been relatively unimpacted by the effects of COVID-19 on the movement of people in and around botanic gardens. This allowed David Marrison, Northern Team Leader, to continue to complete surveillance for the five target pests on a range of potential hosts for the full duration of the project. Staff at the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens recorded 150 surveillance reports.

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