26 September 2023

DAWE scientists caught with their plants up!

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The Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment (DAWE) has announced that its international scientific collaboration has gone digital with plant health surveys being conducted remotely for the first time.

Chief Plant Protection Officer at DAWE, Gabrielle Vivian-Smith said the new approach was important scientific survey work which would help to protect Australian borders from biosecurity threats.

“The Department’s International Plant Health Surveillance Program and the Northern Australia Quarantine Strategy (NAQS) partnered with Papua New Guinea’s National Agriculture and Quarantine Inspection Authority (NAQIA) and Timor-Leste’s National Directorate for Quarantine and Biosecurity (DNQB) to deliver plant health surveillance activities,” Dr Vivian-Smith said.

“Previously our scientists have travelled to PNG and Timor-Leste.”

She attributed NAQIA and DNQB’s scientists as the ‘eyes on the ground’, using survey equipment and resources from the Department to collect specimens while NAQS officers provided diagnostic assistance through WhatsApp messaging in real time.

She said the project was a great example of international scientific collaboration made possible by long standing relationships built over many years of conducting surveys together.

“The botany, entomology and plant pathology teams each had their own WhatsApp group to chat and share photos with the team in Australia.” Dr Vivian-Smith said.

“The project was a great example of our international scientific collaboration, made possible by long standing relationships built over many years of conducting surveys together,” she said.

“Whilst digital media is no substitute to getting your hands dirty and seeing these pests and their impacts first hand, we have shown that we can still accomplish the important job of biosecurity monitoring right though a pandemic,” she said.

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