Norfolk Island has a unique and beautiful natural environment, with species found nowhere else on Earth. It is also home to an important agricultural sector, which provides fresh local produce to residents and visitors. Invasive pests and diseases on Norfolk Island pose threats to both the environment and agriculture sector.
As part of the Australian Government's role in delivering state-like services to Norfolk Island, the department is responsible for the management of established pests and diseases. Working closely with our government partners, Norfolk Island Regional Council and the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, as well as scientists and the community, the department is overseeing a number of initiatives that will increase our understanding and management of pests and diseases to support environmental and agricultural outcomes.
The engagement and support of the Norfolk Island community is fundamental to the success of this work. Community members have taken leadership roles in the implementation of these initiatives.
Integrated Pest Management
Integrated pest management (IPM) uses biological, cultural and chemical tools to support beneficial insects and mites to help keep pest populations below damaging levels. Dr Anthony Rice has developed a number of fact sheets to guide IPM practices on Norfolk Island to manage five key agricultural pests.
Dr Rice has also developed citizen science projects to better understand the behaviour and management of pests. The Norfolk Island community will take a leadership role in shaping and implementing these projects.
Norfolk Island Pest and Disease Survey
The Norfolk Island Pest and Disease Survey will increase our understanding of introduced pests and diseases present on the Island. This information is important, and can be used to inform better biosecurity and management decisions.
The Norfolk Island Pest and Disease Survey ran from 2021 to 2023. It builds on the Norfolk Island Quarantine Survey 2012–2014, updating information gathered in 2012–2014 and filing important knowledge gaps. The 2021–23 surveys used some methodologies unavailable in 2012–14 and therefore provide us with a more detailed look at what pests and diseases are on island. New identifications are not necessarily indicative of new incursions.
The survey was funded by the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development, Communications and the Arts with support from the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry and the Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water.
Biofouling Solutions Pty Ltd was commissioned to run the first survey in the Norfolk Marine Park looking for invasive marine species (IMS). The survey team worked closely with community members to complete field work in May 2021. The final report found that no IMS were established in Norfolk Marine Park and made a number of recommendations to prevent introductions.
Parks Australia was a key partner in this project, and provided funding to support the survey.
Dr John Roberts from the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation was commissioned to survey honey bee pests and diseases. John worked closely with Norfolk Island bee keepers to undertake two surveys in December 2022 and April 2023. Since the last survey in 2012–14, no new honey bee pests or diseases were detected in Norfolk Island honey bees. No honey bee population in the world has fewer pests and pathogens than Norfolk Island honey bees.
Agriculture Victoria Research was engaged to survey plant pests and diseases. With help from growers across the island, the team completed two field trips in March and October 2022. The team did not identify any significant high-priority pests or pathogens not already reported on Norfolk Island. The team did identify some new pests and pathogens, including weeds, viruses and insects. The team also identified some species endemic to Norfolk Island and previously undiscovered, which may play a beneficial role on the island.
Media releases can be found at: