Protecting our nurseries and industry from biosecurity hazards

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NZPPI work on developing plant production biosecurity scheme well underway

Experience early in the myrtle rust response underscored the crucial role that plant producers play in early detection and slowing the spread following a pest incursion. Subsequent discussions identified the opportunity to develop a systematic approach to plant production industry biosecurity risk management.  Late in 2017, and under the auspices of the myrtle rust response, MPI contracted NZPPI to design a Plant Production Biosecurity Scheme (PPBS).

The proposed Scheme is intended to increase the awareness among plant producers of the risks that exotic and endemic pests pose to their nursery and grow producers’ adoption of good biosecurity practice to help manage the risk of pest and disease spread. By protecting their nurseries, they also protect customers, the environment and the New Zealand economy. 

The Scheme is a step change in producer and industry biosecurity readiness and capability. It will build and broaden industry biosecurity engagement and harness the critical skills and observations that exist in the plant production industry to strengthen biosecurity - and the crucial biosecurity team of 4.7 million New Zealanders. The development of this scheme, and the collaboration among producers, MPI and other plant-based sectors, is a strong illustration of this partnership progressing shared biosecurity interests, further and strongly illustrated through MPI funding for the project.

Scheme design underway

Work on the scheme design and proposal is well underway.  To date, it is focused on biosecurity hazards that impact a wide range of producers and nursery types and how we can work together to improve nursery and industry biosecurity risk management.   The NZPPI team working on this project is gathering data on:

  • biosecurity hazards;
  • the ways in which nurseries can prepare to prevent being impacted by these hazards; and
  • the ways in which hazards can be managed, or the impacts minimised, should a nursery be infested.

The work to design the scheme has been supported by a research stocktake by Scion and Plant and Food Research. The aim of the stocktake (available here) is to support science-based design and provide evidence to inform biosecurity related nursery best practice.  As part of the stocktake, a web-based and searchable nursery production biosecurity database will be created, complete with abstracts and links to appropriate reference materials.  We’ll bring you more details in the coming weeks and months.

We’re under “increasing pressure from terrestrial and aquatic pests, weeds and diseases that threaten the country's ecosystems and economy”. So said a 2015 research paper – read more about this and our work on the biosecurity scheme here.

Industry consultation and meetings

NZPPI expects to have proposals ready for industry consultation and feedback late in May. In June, we’ll host several meetings for industry members to gather and provide feedback so that the team can understand your thoughts about the proposed Scheme and collaborate with you to develop a common sense, workable solution.  Please join us on:

  • 11 June – Christchurch, Antarctic Centre
  • 13 June – Auckland, Quality Hotel Lincoln Green
  • 14 June – Tauranga, Hotel Armitage
  • 19 June – Dunedin, Airport Conference Centre
  • 20 June – Nelson, Grand Mercure Monaco Resort
  • 21 June – Palmerston North, Awapuni Function Centre

All meetings run from 11am to 3pm and include a light lunch.  Please RSVP by 1 June to Frances Palmer,

We need your help to build a scheme which works and is workable; focuses on good generic biosecurity practice; reduces the risk of nurseries being infested by high-risk organisms and, in turn, spreading these through plant trade; and, ensures a plant producer is still able to safely grow and move plants around New Zealand.

Keep an eye on NZPPI’s website ( for further updates and contact Matt Dolan (027 622 9255), or John Liddle (021 370 168, for more information.


12 February 2018

New Zealand plant producers will drive development of an industry biosecurity scheme to detect pests and diseases and prevent their spread.

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has commissioned the New Zealand Plant Producers Incorporated (NZPPI) to lead development of the scheme, placing plant producers at the forefront of New Zealand’s biosecurity efforts.

Over the next six months, NZPPI will work with industry, MPI and other stakeholders to design a plant production biosecurity standard and manual. This consultative process will determine key considerations such as how the scheme will run and how to upskill industry.

Everyone knows an incursion, depending on the pest in question, would be devastating. We want to know what you would like done to safeguard your livelihood against practices which put all our nursery operations at risk. To that end, a focus group has been formed to help us access a wide variety of views but we will also hold workshops in coming months to ensure plant producers can have questions answered and we can be made aware of any concerns.

The NZPPI team working on this project will seek to understand your thoughts about the scheme and collaborate with you to develop a common sense, workable solution. We want to build a scheme which works and is workable; that focuses on good generic biosecurity practice; reduces the risk of spreading myrtle rust and other high-risk organisms through plant trade; and, ensures a plant producer is still able to safely move plants.

Through the process industry and stakeholders will consider the balance between voluntary or mandatory scheme, which is the best way to achieve the outcomes we desire and how either may operate to the benefit of industry and New Zealand’s biosecurity.  At some point later in the year, industry will need to decide whether the scheme will be voluntary or mandatory.

The project recognises the crucial role that plant producers and colleagues in supply chains have in the early detection of new pests and diseases. Plant producers served as New Zealand’s early warning system in last years’ myrtle rust incursion and have proved vital in helping to limit the spread of pests and diseases. The industry’s rapid adoption of NZPPI’s myrtle rust management protocols helped keep plants moving and prevented further rust spread through the supply chain.  To date there have been no further infections detected in nurseries or among supply chain members.

Industry’s contribution to the myrtle rust response was applauded by Government. This scheme will further strengthen plant producers’ contribution in keeping New Zealand free of unwanted pests and diseases. It will help with the long-term management of myrtle rust and other high-risk organisms, and support a professional approach to biosecurity across the plant production industry. 

The scheme will harness the critical skills, observations and enthusiasm within the industry to complement the work being done to educate the biosecurity team of 4.7 million New Zealanders.

Expected benefits of this project include:

  • Greater biosecurity professionalism and standards industry-wide
  • Increased likelihood of early detection of myrtle rust and other high-risk organisms
  • Minimise domestic spread of myrtle rust and other high-risk organisms
  • Preservation of response options in the event of future incursions
  • Programmes to help protect producers and their supply chains from pest and disease threats
  • Continued safe trade of young plants of known health status
  • Continued freedom of movement of young plants to realise economic and environmental benefits to New Zealand.

In the coming months, NZPPI will have more details on the project schedule and how industry members can provide input regarding the design of the scheme.

More details from Matt Dolan (027 622 9255), or John Liddle (021 370 168,


PPBS Documents

Research stocktake

Background Information


Young nursery stock at Treeline Native Nursery

ohia metrosideros
Rapid Ohia Death in Hawaii (photo credit Lisa Keith, USDA-ARS, DKI DKI PBARC, Hilo, Hawaii, presentation at Myrtle Rust Symposium, Auckland, August 2017)

Xylella impacted olive grove Italy (photo credit Shutterstock 610891697)

Xylella impacted Vineyard in California (Xylella estimated cost to California wine industry $US104m annually)

myrtle rust lophomyrtus
Myrtle Rust symptoms on Lophomyrtus