Biosecurity surveillance mapped

It’s an atlas, but not as you know it.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry has published the Atlas of Biosecurity Surveillance, with maps showing some of the monitoring it does for presence of unwanted pests, weeds and diseases.

MAF Surveillance manager Brendan Gould says surveillance is an important part of New Zealand’s multi-layered biosecurity system.

“MAF does a tremendous amount of work to prevent unwanted organisms arriving in New Zealand, both overseas to stop travellers and importers bringing pests to New Zealand and at the border to identify and eliminate pests that do arrive there.

“But if an unwanted pest, weed or disease does get through, formal surveillance provides an additional layer of biosecurity – along with alert New Zealanders.”

Brendan says MAF’s official surveillance programmes achieve three main objectives.

They can provide early warning of the arrival of an unwanted organism before it gets a chance to establish here. “The earlier we find them the greater the likelihood we can eliminate or manage them before they become a problem.”

Biosecurity surveillance can also provide the evidence required to assure trading partner countries that New Zealand is free of particular unwanted organisms and so supports access for New Zealand exports.

It also provides evidence to justify prevention measures taken to stop unwanted organisms from getting here in the first place.

The Atlas includes maps and information about several surveillance programmes, including:

  • invasive ants (a threat to our outdoor lifestyle, and plant and animal industries)
  • fruit flies (a threat to horticulture)
  • gypsy moths (a threat to commercial and native forestry)
  • arbovirus (several diseases that pose a threat to ruminant livestock industries)
  • avian influenza (a threat to birds as well as human health)
  • exotic marine pests such as the Northern Pacific Seastar (a threat to our diverse marine resources).

Brendan says a range of approaches are used to detect the presence of these organisms, including insect traps, checking trees and shrubs, and animal blood testing.

The maps reveal a different kind of landscape, he points out. The surveillance activities are mostly arranged according to risk. For example, where an organism might come in with imported goods or vessels there could be a concentration of surveillance around sea and air ports.

The Atlas can be viewed at:

Biosecurity Month

The New Zealand Biosecurity Institute, of which the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) is a member, has designated July as Biosecurity month.

Biosecurity is the protection of New Zealand from harmful pests, weeds and diseases.

MAF has the lead role in managing the country’s biosecurity, with a strategy of managing risk and providing layers of protection and response.


Media contact:
MAF media phoneline: 029 894 0328


Last Updated: 01 August 2011

Contact MPI

for general enquiries phone

0800 00 83 33