The increasing globalisation of tourism and trade provides new opportunities for the transportation and introduction of pests and diseases into Australia.
In addition, human population growth, climate change, extreme weather events and habitat modification are acting together to further spread animal pests, weeds and pathogens in Australia.
The Environment Institute is bolstering Australia's biosecurity risk-analysis framework by providing responsive training and core research skills in risk analysis methods.
Experts currently believe that the majority of emerging diseases are of a zoonotic multi-species nature, meaning they are transferred from animals to humans. Powerful examples of multi-species diseases include; rabies, plague, influenza and a variety of intestinal parasites. With recent growth in Australia's trade and tourism, we must trial and adopt a wide variety of new biosurveillance (systematic observation for biological hazards) and biosecurity technologies.
The most promising developments in risk-based biosurveillance are approaches for determining cost-efficient searching activities and new tools for the earliest possible identification of potentially dangerous material or species. Recent reviews of Australian biosecurity suggest that the current security systems, including quarantine inspection, are more efficient and effective if they target potentially high-risk importers and exporters, regions and environments, and transportation routes.
The Environment Institute's expertise is in four key areas of biosecurity-risk research:
- complex risk networks and risk-pathway analyses;
- new technologies in risk-based biosurveillance;
- climate change and environmental uncertainty;
- risk return and consequence assessment.
This research requires a multidisciplinary approach drawing on expertise in the development of risk theory, world trade policy, invasion pathways, climate change, agricultural risk, animal and plant health (and disease) , aquatic biosecurity, and environmental genomics.