New national research centre maintaining momentum to tackle pests

July this year saw the beginning of a new era in invasive species research and innovation, with the launch of the Centre for Invasive Species Solutions.

The national research centre continues the collaboration between government, industry and research agencies to build on the work of the previous Invasive Animals Cooperative Research Centre, which had been running since 2005.

The Centre will include Australian Wool Innovation and Meat and Livestock Australia, ensuring the needs of livestock producers and graziers are addressed, particularly in relation to wild dog and rabbit management.

Andreas Glanznig, CEO for the new Centre said that after more than a decade of funding for the Invasive Animals CRC, Australia needed a permanent research centre to strengthen invasive species management strategies at landscape scale.

“We are now moving into our next stage of invasive species RD&E in Australia and working closely with key stakeholders to ensure governments and community have the tools to work together to provide innovative solutions to these big national problems,” Mr Glanznig said.

The first stage of the new Centre’s core research and development program will primarily focus on vertebrate pests and be built around the Australian Government’s $20 million investment along with significant investment from state government and industry partners.

The program will maintain key projects such as the National Wild Dog Management Coordinator, Greg Mifsud, who has been working with community groups and governments across Australia to ensure strategic and coordinated wild dog management.

Greg Mifsud, talking with some local landholders at a regional field days event about strategic wild dog management.

Greg’s role will continue to work with farming agencies to incorporate wild dog and feral animal management activities into national livestock production extension programs, to see feral animal control delivered strategically as part of on-farm management activities.

 

The Centre will again play a vital role in the biocontrol space. In March of 2017, the culmination of an eight-year Invasive Animals CRC collaborative research program resulted in the national release of the first new rabbit biocontrol agent in 20 years, known as RHDV1 K5 (a Korean strain of calicivirus).

The virus was released at more than 370 community-led sites across Australia, resulting in an average 42 per cent reduction in wild rabbit numbers at sites where the virus was released, based on coinciding spotlight counts undertaken pre-and post-release.

The new Centre will now lead the roll out of a recently developed 20-year rabbit biocontrol pipeline plan and ensure we have new landscape scale tools to stay on top of the rabbit problem – which can cause up to $250 million damage to agriculture each year alone.

Image left: Emma Sawyers, part of the rabbit biocontrol research team, is explaining to landholders about how to submit a rabbit tissue sample for disease analysis by our labs.

                     Image right: A rabbit is snapped by a remote camera eating some oats laced with the new rabbit virus – 4 hours after they had been put out.

 

One of our key community-led digital decision support systems, FeralScan, is helping land managers better understand invasive animal problems on their land through the reporting function. The FeralScan suite is now being utilised as part of the management programs for many land management and land care agencies across Australia.

Australia aspires to be a global leader in collaborative pest animal and weed research, development and extension and the new centre also aims to further develop our international partnerships ensuring our research is world class, increasing our capacity with the ability to create and learn from global programs.

For more information visit www.pestsmart.org.au