Biosecurity, risk and policy: a New Zealand perspective

  • Stephen L. GoldsonEmail author
Conference Proceedings "Decision Making and Science"


The term ‘biosecurity’, in New Zealand, broadly refers to the need to prevent the establishment and/or the impact of unwanted organisms in all ecosystems. The New Zealand Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) has operational and policy responsibility for biosecurity across all of the major sectors of the economy and environment. Science is recognised as essential to advancing New Zealand’s biosecurity capability beyond that which can be gained via organisational revision and optimisation. A multi-organisational research group known as ‘Better Border Biosecurity’ was established in 2005 specifically to provide the necessary strategic research to underpin MAF’s and other ‘end-users’ operational and policy requirements. However, this can only work if there is a strong partnership between the contributing parties. Biosecurity in New Zealand is not without its issues. There is a varyingly asserted expectation that there should be readily available biosecurity measures that, while having no effect on trade, will work flawlessly. An unfortunate corollary of this is that the system may be thought of as having ‘failed’ when incursions occur or they cannot be effectively eradicated. Further, there remains an abiding issue for all in biosecurity around how to measure success in terms of incursions averted. Also, there is now community resistance to some measures taken to eradicate incursions, particularly after two (successful) aerial spraying programmes in Auckland against lymantriid moths. Care is needed to define what biosecurity covers in an international sense and New Zealand’s legislative framework for biosecurity bears ongoing scrutiny if clarity of operational responsibility between MAF and the New Zealand Environmental Risk Management Authority is to continue to progress.


Biosecurity Border Ecosystems Policy Pest Risk 



I gratefully acknowledge the information and advice provided by Dr Geoff Ridley, Science Manager New Organisms, the Environmental Risk Management Authority of New Zealand and by Dr Matt McGlone, Science Leader, Biodiversity and Conservation, Landcare Research Manaaki Whenua Christchurch, New Zealand. I also sincerely thank Professor John Mumford, Professor of Natural Resource Management at Imperial College London for his astute editorial comments along with those of one other anonymous referee who attended the 2010 Berlin Conference on Decision Making and Science.

Conflict of interest

The author S.L. Goldson declares that the research was not sponsored and that he has no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Bundesamt für Verbraucherschutz und Lebensmittelsicherheit (BVL) 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Better Border BiosecurityChristchurchNew Zealand

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