CDU student Paul Royce’s PhD project to raise awareness of biological threats amongst the Kununurra community is no small task.
Paul was selected last month to implement a major plan to minimise the risk of exotic and biological threats, such as fruit fly, foreign grasses, as well as aquatic plants and animals in the Kununurra region.
The OrdGuard project is a partnership between CDU, the Department of Agriculture (WA) and the Kununurra Primary Industries sector, who have developed a regional biosecurity plan aiming to address the threat of a biological incursion in the Ord River Irrigation Area.
"The project will introduce practical models to engage the community in actively monitoring biological incursions. I will work closely with the tourism and primary industries, Indigenous groups and the broader community to raise awareness of biosecurity.
"Each group is quite unique and will require a different approach. It is important everyone is aware of the potential impact an incursion will have on the livelihood of the whole community, not just primary industry.
"Everyone needs to know what to do if they see something that doesn’t look quite right. This model could potentially be transferred to other communities nationally and internationally," Paul said.
OrdGuard received funding last year from the Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) for Plant Biosecurity in December 2005 to implement the project.
The Ord River Irrigation Area currently covers nearly 12 hectares of bananas, sugar cane, mangos and melons and other crops, with plans to extend this area significantly. Given the benefits these crops bring to the local economy, an incursion such as fruit fry could devastate local producers and the broader Kununurra community.
Though in its early stages, the project has received significant support and interest from key organisations including the Kimberley Primary Industries Association, the Shire of Wyndham/East Kimberley, the Department of Agriculture, Kununurra Tourist Centre and local schools.
Lachlan Dobson, OrdGuard Chairperson and Director of Kimberley Produce, is providing professional support throughout the project and has been a long time advocate of increasing the profile of biosecurity in the local region.