Combating worldwide pest threat growth

by Anonymous Author

A Lincoln biosecurity expert is sounding a warning for New Zealand to continue to be vigilant about guarding its borders, with new research showing pests are continuing to spread around the world.

Professor Philip Hulme, of the Bio-Protection Centre at Lincoln University, is a senior author on the study that shows international efforts to prevent the entry and spread of pests, weeds and diseases have not been sufficient to keep up with the pace of globalisation, and the country can certainly expect more invasions in the future. 

It revealed the number of invasive species worldwide has been increasing over the last 200 years with no sign of slowing down. At a global scale, this means that there are almost two new pest incursions somewhere in the world every day.

Professor Hulme said New Zealand needs to ensure biosecurity is right at the top of the business and tourism agenda.


“As a country with a unique flora and fauna as well as strong economic dependence of agriculture, it is vital for New Zealand to have stringent and robust biosecurity policies.

“I’m not sure this message gets through enough to our millions of tourists, the airlines or importers,” he said.

The study, involving an international team of 45 scientists, found increases in invasive species were associated with human activities, particularly the expansion of agriculture, horticulture and global trade.

“While new species can boost diversity in an area, they can also have detrimental impacts on the native ecosystem, economy, environment and human health. In some cases, they can even bring about the extinction of native species,” Professor Hulme said.

However, he said there were some positives in the study’s findings.

“New Zealand was one of the few countries shown to have fewer records of weed incursions in the last few decades. “The success at reducing weed incursions is largely down to New Zealand implementing a strict biosecurity policy in 1993. As such, our biosecurity systems can be viewed as a global example of best practice,” Professor Hulme said.

The study’s findings highlight the continued need for improvements in national legislation and international agreements, to help mitigate invasions and keep up with impacts from increasing globalisation.

“New Zealand is already leading the way and hopefully through Biosecurity 2025, New Zealand is on the road to future-proofing the system to meet increasing global trade and travel that present continual new challenges,” Professor Hulme said.