What is Area Freedom and why is it important?
The concept of area freedom is used to describe an area in which a specific pest is absent, as demonstrated by scientific evidence. The freedom from certain pests and diseases results in significant economic, environmental and community benefits, including trade advantages. If a pest is considered to be absent, then no additional phytosanitary measures should be required by the importing state, territory or country with respect to the stated pest, when certain requirements are met. Therefore, an area freedom certificate for a specific pest facilitates the export of plants, plant products and other regulated matter by providing assurance that the pest will not be introduced with traded commodities.
Area Freedom Program in Tasmania
Tasmania has a robust and comprehensive plant biosecurity system that supports the state’s industries, environment, and public well-being. This, and our geographic isolation enable Tasmania to remain free from many pests and diseases that adversely impact other parts of the country and the world.
Biosecurity Tasmania claims area freedom for a range of plant pests and diseases, declared under the Biosecurity Act 2019, and issues area freedom certificates to support market access. These certificates are essential in maintaining existing domestic and international trade opportunities, negotiating access to new markets and gives Tasmanian exporters a financial advantage through reduced phytosanitary costs.
To ensure the benefits of Tasmania’s area freedom status are maintained, Biosecurity Tasmania has an evidence-based coordinated approach to establish, maintain, and verify area freedom status through a combination of elements, including:
- Evidence-Based Risk Analysis: Biosecurity Tasmania is committed to an evidence based decision-making process based on scientific risk analysis to ensure an appropriate level of biosecurity protection.
- Surveillance: Biosecurity Tasmania runs surveillance and monitoring programs to maximise the likelihood of early detection of new pests and diseases, and to provide an acceptable level of confidence for trading partners that the pest of concern is not present in the state.
- Import Inspections: Biosecurity Tasmania conducts routine border inspections at all sea / airports, mail centres and freight sheds across the state. Personal effects and cargo are screened by a variety of methods including detector dogs and x-ray machines.
- Export Inspections: Biosecurity Tasmania conducts export inspections prior to plant products leaving the state. The results of these inspections contribute to verifying area freedom status of pests and diseases within Tasmania.
- Diagnostics: Biosecurity Tasmania’s Plant Diagnostic Services uses nationally and internationally recognised diagnostic tools and methods to assure the reliability of identification of plant pests and diseases.
- Phytosanitary Measures: Biosecurity Tasmania applies the least trade-restrictive phytosanitary measures, regulations and import requirements to maintain an appropriate level of protection and prevent the introduction and spread of harmful pests and diseases.
- Shared Responsibilities: Biosecurity Tasmania is committed to improving awareness of phytosanitary measures and providing information to assist stakeholders to identify and report unusual pests and diseases.
How can you contribute?
Tasmanian agricultural industries rely on our strong and resilient biosecurity system to safeguard our economy and way of life, and we’re asking for your help!
Biosecurity is a shared responsibility, and all Tasmanians can contribute to maintaining our freedom from different pests and diseases by:
- Looking out and reporting unusual pests and diseases.
- Checking Tasmanian Import Requirements when purchasing plant and plant products from interstate or international sources.
- Complying with best biosecurity practices.
- Volunteering for applicable surveillance programs.