Better Border Biosecurity (B3) researchers shared their mahi and helped celebrate the 75th birthday of the NZ Plant Protection (NZPP) Society at its recent conference in Christchurch.
One of the Society’s primary roles is as a hub for information on the biology of weeds, invertebrate and vertebrate pests, pathogens and beneficial organisms, and ways of modifying their effects. Accessing and sharing information on biosecurity has, over the past decade, become an increasingly important part of the Society’s activities.
B3 Director David Teulon says biosecurity was an underlying theme throughout the pre-conference symposium, the three-day conference and anniversary celebrations.
“It was a privilege to celebrate with the NZPP and for B3 researchers to share their work on topics such as the potential impact of plant pathogens Xylella and Rapid ʻŌhiʻa Death on Aotearoa New Zealand’s productive and native plants; new methods and technologies for detecting and assessing the risk of unidentified pests, pathogens and weeds; modelling environmental risk of new introductions; and exploring what we can learn and share about biosecurity with our Pacific neighbours.
“It was a very successful meeting with over 180 attendees from science, universities, government and industry” says Dr Teulon.
The conference was preceded by the NZPP symposium on ‘Plant pathogens that keep us awake: past, present and future threats to native species‘ where leading scientists, kaitiaki, international experts and representatives from government agencies brought attendees up to date with progress on topics such as myrtle rust, kauri dieback, Pacific biosecurity, Ceratocystis, and Xylella.
Dr Teulon says B3-sponsored keynote speaker Dr Irene Barnes from FABI in South Africa gave an absorbing virtual presentation on the ‘The past, present and future threats of Ceratocystis sp. in South Africa and globally’, a significant biosecurity concern to New Zealand productive and native plant systems.
Professor Dame Juliet Gerrard opened the conference by contrasting the COVID-19 pandemic to Aotearoa New Zealand’s biosecurity challenges and challenging the attendees to be more strategic on targeting high-risk organisms.
Dr Teulon says there were two biosecurity sessions involving industry, research and government biosecurity professionals and covering a wide range of topics. Read the abstracts.
B3 research was highlighted at the symposium and conference in presentations from Julia Soewarto, Virginia Marroni, Sandra Visnovsky, Toni Withers, Chris Buddenhagen, Jesse Rubenstein, Te Whaeoranga Smallman, Kambiz Esfandi, Scott Hardwick, and David Teulon. There were also a number of posters featuring B3 research.
A highlight of the conference was the awarding of the prestigious NZPP Society Medal to Brian Richardson for championing forest protection over nearly four decades of research. Brian has been very active in B3 as a project leader, and a Collaboration Council and Science Advisory Group member.
NZPP Society President Mike Cripps says the number of biosecurity presentations at the Conference has been growing year on year and are now a notable part of the Conference programme.