New invasive species research centre to open

Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce has officially announced $20 million worth of funding to establish a new invasive species research centre in Canberra, called the Centre for Invasive Species Solutions (CISS). The centre will commence operations this July and will build on the work of the Invasive Animals Cooperative Research Centre (CRC). The CISS will be dedicated to creating innovative solutions for tackling Australia’s billion-dollar pest animal and weed problem.

Readers unfamiliar with the Invasive Animals CRC might know of its work through PestSmart, which provides information packs and toolkits on the best practices for dealing with pest animals. PestSmart also educates the general public on invasive species and offers updates and action plans on projects happening around Australia.

SSAA National’s Wildlife Programs Leader Matthew Godson says the new funding towards pest animal research is good news. “We welcome the continued investment in pest animal research in Australia,” he said. “Effective pest management requires many tools, both old and new technology and we will continue doing what we can in the battle against invasive species.”

It has been a busy time for the protection of our native species, with South Australia’s Kangaroo Island recently declaring it will be going cat-free by 2030 and the Australian Government committing to culling two million feral cats by 2020. While most recent pest management strategies have been positive, hunters have expressed mixed reactions to the new calicivirus being released on rabbit populations. Despite some of these concerns, it is heartening to see the Australian Government stepping up to the challenge of dealing with invasive species.

Helen Cathles, chair of the Invasive Animals CRC Board, said that these are extremely exciting times for conservation. “I welcome the Government’s announcement and applaud the Minister’s passion to tackle the important national problem,” she said. “[During] the past 12 months, research investment has seen new pest control tools hit the farm gate. There was the first new complementary feral predator toxin in 50 years being available, then a new strain of rabbit calicivirus was released nationally with community involvement at [more than] 505 sites around Australia. This will have a huge benefit for all Australians and our economy.”

Ms Cathles went on to say that the future looks promising with more tools coming online. “Along with new tools, our innovative research and extension programs have seen new and easy to access digital tools launched to assist land managers with monitoring pest animals on their land and enhance education and knowledge on the best practices for pest animal management,” she said.

For more information, visit the Centre for Invasive Species Solutions website.

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