The National Priority List of Exotic Environmental Pests, Weeds, and Diseases (EEPL) was finalised and approved by the National Biosecurity Committee in October 2020.
The EEPL is comprised of 168 exotic species that are considered to pose a risk to Australia’s environment and associated social amenities, and to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural heritage.
The list was compiled after an extensive analysis process led by Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics (ABARES). The process was focussed on consultations with subject matter experts to identify and rank exotic species that pose an environmental biosecurity risk to Australia. The EEPL was also made available for comment and input from any interested party during a period of public consultations.
As new information becomes available or circumstances change on the ground then EEPL species can be added or removed from the EEPL as necessary.
The EEPL species are partitioned into 8 thematic groups based on niches and organism type. A work program is being developed that is partially based on the 8 groups. This approach will improve the efficient delivery of risk-reducing measures by targeting groups of organisms rather than single species at a time.
The work program will be composed of projects and other actions that will reduce the risk of an EEPL entering or becoming established in Australia. Part of that work will involve general surveillance projects, including the CSIRO-led Atlas of Living Australia (ALA), which currently records observations made by the general public. Some of those recorded observations include observations of EEPL species in Australia. Reporting these observations into the ALA will be an important surveillance capability to provide early awareness of an EEPL incursion.
Most of the risk reducing work will require building on existing programs that already contribute to reducing exotic pest incursions. Effective measures to reduce exotic environmental biosecurity risk will greatly depend upon collaborations with stakeholders from the states and territories, NGOs and other community-based groups.