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CRC10010: Enhanced Risk Analysis Tools

Currently biosecurity prediction is highly uncertain. Plant industries need more confidence in planning for biosecurity investments. The current system depends on expert opinion on a number of questions. While this may be the best available system to prioritise threats at present, it is well known that opinion is susceptible to bias and possibly misleading prioritisation.

Research outcomes:

Our research showed that multi-criteria decision analysis is an effective vehicle for the communication of results of economic analyses, technical scientific information and personal experiences to groups of decision-makers. These decision makers may be deciding on how much industry money to invest in species-specific research and development activities, government agencies forming part of the biosecurity continuum, industry and regional cooperative institutions, or local governments allocating money to pest and disease control activities. If supported by a transparent, interactive tool revealing group and individual preferences, experts capable of conveying their knowledge in a clear fashion and adequate technical information about pests, the technique we have developed is a highly effective decision-facilitation device.

In a trial setting it has been successfully used to prioritise a diverse list of pests and diseases affecting different industries. An interesting finding of our research is that introducing information about uncertainties in future pest impact scenarios does not necessarily have a significant impact on pest prioritisation. While the use of quantitative models to provide effective expert testimony on the market impacts of pests proved very successful, the relative uncertainty/quality of that information appeared to have little effect on decision-maker priorities. This being the case, there may be scope to further simplify the deliberative process to make group decision facilitation more rapid.

Sample of Threat Data documents:

Threat data - Pear fruit moth

Threat data - Rose beetle

Threat data - Turnip moth

For a full list, please see the below Final Report.  

Research implications:

The range of possible impacts society may face in the future as a result of pest and disease incursions should be taken account of when planning risk mitigation activities. For instance, industry and government research and development programs targeted towards future threats should take into account forgone opportunities to invest in other activities that could potentially produce large benefits for the community. This is particularly true of invasive species that have both cultivated and wild native hosts since an outbreak can produce both market and non-market impacts. If only the market impacts are taken into account during industry and government strategic plans, there is a danger species with environmental and social impacts may be under-funded. The implications of this research project for all members of the biosecurity continuum are that practical tools have been developed to enable both market and non-market impacts of pests and diseases to be accounted for when planning for the future. To be most effective they require diverse groups coming together and talk about specific threats and a willingness to understand alternative points of view and joint approaches to risk mitigation and management.


The Enhanced Biosecurity Planning Tools project team would like to acknowledge the role members of our Expert Reference Group played in shaping the project. This group was a valuable resource throughout, and we thank Tony Russell (Apple and Pear Australia Ltd.), Nicky Bresolin (Plant Health Australia), Mike Cole (DAFF-OCCPO), Wendy Proctor (CSIRO Sustainable Ecosystems), Andy Sheppard (CSIRO Entomology), David Dall (RIRDC), Kim James (HAL), Rob Duthie (HAL/Kalang Consultancy Services), Debra Riddell (DAFF-BRS), Jane Fisher (RIRDC) and Ryan Wilson (PHA) for their time, insight, thoughts and ideas.

Thank you very much to Cain Roberts and the Cooperative Research Centre for National Plant Biosecurity’s Delivery and Adoption Program for their generous support of the Pest Risk Prioritisation Stakeholder Workshop held at the Rydges Lakeside Canberra Hotel on the 6-7 May 2009. Thank you also to all who participated in this workshop and helped to make it a tremendous success, including Nicole Bresolin (PHA), Jason Cappello (NSW Farmers Association), Rochelle Christian (Bureau of Rural Sciences), Mike Cole (DAFF), David Dall (RIRDC), Peter Darley (NSW Farmers Association), Paul DeBarro (CSIRO Entomology/CRC NPB), Ron Gordon (Batlow Fruit Co-op.), Kim James (Horticulture Australia Ltd.), Trevor Ranford (Apple and Pear Australia Ltd.), Tony Russell (Apple and Pear Australia Ltd.), Bill Rye (Cropwatch), Rien Silverstein (Pear Grower), Andrew Tomkins (Department of Regional Development, Primary Industries, Fisheries & Resources) and Ian Warren (Department of Environment Water Heritage and Arts).


Dr David Cook
Project Leader CRC10010: Enhanced Risk Analysis Tools
Phone: 02 6246 4093
Fax: 02 6246 4000

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July 2006 - November 2009
$1,312,099 (cash and in-kind support)