Friday, January 08, 2010

Workshop addresses bio=control strategy for invasive pests and weeds

Participants at the Pacific Bio-control Strategy Workshop at Auckland, New Zealand, late last year


The biological control of invasive species in the Pacific was the agenda of a strategic workshop held in New Zealand recently.
Plant protection experts and quarantine specialists from the Pacific and international community were taken to task to address issues of adopting biological control or bio-control as a tool to fight invasive pests and weeds in agriculture, forestry and important ecosystems in the region.
The Regional Bio-control Strategy Development Workshop was held in Auckland last Nov 16-18.
Papua New Guinea was represented by Kaile Korowi, an entomologist with Ramu Agri-Industries; Tony Gunua, a senior plant pathologist with the National Agricultural Quarantine and Inspection Authority; and Annastasia Kawi, a National Agriculture Research Institute scientist.
Other participating countries were American Samoa, Cook Islands, Fiji, French Polynesia, Guam, New Caledonia, Niue, Northern Marianas, Palau, Samoa, Tonga and Vanuatu.
The main purpose of the workshop was to bring key players together to see whether bio-control of widespread invasive species could be undertaken in a more co-operative and collaborative way in the Pacific, and to develop a regional strategy that would allow this to happen.
Some of the issues addressed included:
· Reviewing of bio-control activities in the Pacific;
· Identifying capacity gaps and barriers in using bio-control to manage invasive weeds;
· Identifying opportunities and actions to increase bio-control work in the Pacific;
· Discussing criteria for selecting priority species for bio-control;
· Identifying actions and mechanisms to increase the understanding and acceptance of the use of bio-control as a management tool;
· Identifying potential funding sources for bio-control projects; and
· Creating a steering group to assist in the implementation of a regional strategic plan.
Participants were told that a significant number of successful projects on invasive species using bio-control already existed in the Pacific region with scope for more.
However, given the financial, legislative and logistical constraints faced by each Pacific Island Country and Territory (PIC&T), there was an urgent need is develop a strategy that could allow PIC&Ts to share expertise, experiences and resources.
Emphasis was also placed on each PIC&T to prioritise their invasive species, both plant and animal pests, for biological control.
With priority lists, countries with commonalities can work together to help minimise expenses of often-expensive invasive species management projects.
The workshop concluded that the PIC&Ts can share more information between agriculture, forestry and bio-diversity conservation groups to better address bio-control work, as well as look at strategies implemented in other regions in the use of bio-control agents to fight invasive plants and pests.
The workshop was funded by United States Department of State, Hawaii Invasive Species Council, Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund, New Zealand AID, Pacific Invasive Learning Network, Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme, Pacific Invasive Initiative based at Auckland University, Secretariat of the Pacific Community’s Land Resources Division, Landcare Research New Zealand and United States Forest Services in Hawaii.

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