Busting Myrtle Rust
May 3, 2012

Myrtle rust doesn't sound very intimidating, but it's a serious biosecurity threat in Australia. First detected in New South Wales in August 2010, establishment of the rust could have a devastating effect on Australia's native Eucalyptus-dominated ecosystems, as well as on its forestry, agriculture, horticulture and tourism industries. Working with Plant Health Australia, DAFF (the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry), the University of Melbourne, CSIRO and others, Compass's Graham Long led stakeholders through a  structured decision making process to identify possible responses to the rust outbreak (e.g., fungicide application, etc.) and evaluate their consequences. In addition to assessing the probability of success at controlling myrtle rust, we considered a variety of economic, social and environmental risks associated with different responses. The paper Evaluation of Potential Responses to Invasive Non-Native Species with Sructured Decision Making demonstrates the use of decision trees to inform a sequenced decision problem, and discusses the transferability of the methods to other situations where a rapid response to a non-native species is needed.