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Environmental biosecurity

​​​​​​​​​​​​​The Department of Agriculture has primary responsibility for managing Australia’s biosecurity , including managing biosecurity risk to Australia’s environment. Protecting Australia’s environment from pests and diseases that are likely to cause harm is important so that all Australian’s can enjoy our environment and unique biodiversity now and into the future. Managing biosecurity risk to the environment is not done in isolation, it is a key part of the biosecurity system which is managed along with animal, plant and human health. To ensure that the management of Australia’s environmental biosecurity risk is effective and appropriate, the department:

  • works collaboratively with the Department of the Environment and Energy to develop and implement policies and programs that protect and conserve the environment
  • conducts risk analyses, including import risk analyses, so that goods and people arriving in Australia do not pose an unacceptable biosecurity risk
  • provides inspection and certification services to facilitate the safe movement of people, goods and conveyances into and out of Australia and;
  • partners with state and territory governments, industry and communities to manage pest and disease outbreaks that threaten Australia’s environment

Biosecurity risk does not discriminate and, if not managed properly, it can have devastating impacts for Australia. Managing risk to Australia’s environment is a crucial part of maintaining a modern and robust biosecurity system.

Chief Environmental Biosecurity Officer

The Chief Environmental Biosecurity Officer is similar to the Chief Veterinary Officer and Chief Plant Protection Officer. They will provide national policy leadership on the environmental impact of foreign pests and diseases. Read more about this role and our environmental biosecurity priorities.​

National priority list of exotic environmental pests and diseases project

In response to recommendations in the 2017 Priorities for Australia’s biosecurity system report, we are working on a collaborative project with experts from state and territory governments, the NZ Government, universities and other organisations to develop a national priority list of exotic pests, weeds and diseases that could harm Australia’s environment and social amenity.

Project aims

The project will identify high-risk species from all taxonomic groups and ecosystems. This includes terrestrial and freshwater vertebrates, terrestrial and aquatic invertebrates, marine pests, plants, plant pathogens and wildlife diseases and aquatic animal diseases. The project aims to ensure that Australia’s native flora and fauna, unique environments and the social amenity they provide are adequately protected from biosecurity threats.

Completing a priority list for exotic environmental pests and diseases will go towards meeting one of the Aichi Biodiversity Targets under the Convention on Biological Diversity.


We held workshops in March and June 2018 to bring together key stakeholders from governments and scientific experts to inform development of the list. These experts are currently assessing species for the national priority list and will consult with the public once the assessment period is complete. Following that process, the final list is expected to be published by the end of 2019. The prioritisation process and list will be reviewed and updated after three years.

More on the National priority list of exotic environmental pests and diseases project, contact Environmental Biosecurity Office.

Project timelines

August 2018 to March 2019Experts to assess species for the priority list through two assessment rounds
Mid 2019Public consultation
Mid to late 2019Endorsement of the priority list by the Environment and Invasives Committee and the National Biosecurity Committee
End of 2019Publication of the final list on our website

Environmental Biosecurity Roundtables

The Environmental Biosecurity Roundtables are a held twice yearly and are jointly hosted by the Australian Government Department of Agriculture and the Department of the Environment and Energy. They are an opportunity for representatives from government, non-government and a wide range of environmental and community organisations to share knowledge and build valuable networks. The roundtables also provide a forum to identify and discuss key environmental biosecurity issues and improve Australia’s capacity to respond to biosecurity risks that could threaten our environment and way of life.  Please contact the Environmental Biosecurity Office if you would like more information or an invitation to the next roundtable.

2019 Environmental Biosecurity Roundtables

1 May

Environmental Biosecurity Roundtable 1
National Museum of Australia, Canberra

30 October ​Environmental Biosecurity Roundtable 2 – Venue TBC, Melbourne

Reports on previous environmental roundtables