Bundaberg Region farmers and citizens scientists now have a new tool to help tackle invasive pests and diseases that could threaten the region’s native, plantation and urban forests.
The release of new mobile app MyPestGuide Trees, available to industry, government, and the community, will empower all to easily identify and report invasive pests and diseases.
The MyPestGuide Trees mobile phone app is designed to promote, encourage, and make it easy for everyone to get involved in identifying and reporting pest sightings in trees in backyards, streets, parks or local bushland.
The app allows users to filter exotic environmental and plant pests using various criteria to identify causal organisms and, if required, submit images of pests to their state or territory agriculture department for identification.
Plant Health Australia General Manager, Partnerships and Innovation Dr Lucy Tran-Nguyen said use of the app would help support early detection of exotic forest pests, potentially allowing for timely eradication of new and potentially damaging incursions.
“By using the MyPestGuide Trees app, members of the public are helping Australia to gather data to build a comprehensive understanding of the forest pests in Australia,” she said.
While many potentially damaging pests and diseases exist overseas, Australia has robust biosecurity measures in place to mitigate these risks.
Even so, exotic pests and diseases can and do occasionally reach Australia and can damage the environment, including trees and forests.
Australia’s trees and forests provide a diverse array of economic, cultural, environmental, and amenity benefits.
The forest, wood and paper products sector is Australia’s sixth largest manufacturing industry, and forestry contributes $9.2 billion to the Australian economy.
Plant Health Australia encouraged users to use the app when they spot anything unusual on a tree or observe something they are unsure about.
The application is available for free download via the Apple App Store or Google Play, as well as a web-based version or call the Exotic Plant Pest Hotline on 1800 084 881.
The MyPestGuide® TREES mobile application was developed through funding from the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry’s Environmental Biosecurity Office and Forest Wood Products Australia.
Expertise was provided by Australian Forest Products Association, agriculture departments from different states and territories, forest sector organisations, and university experts.