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NSW peri urban biosecurity program: looking back, looking ahead

Nicole Schembri, NSW Department of Primary Industries, 6 Avenue of the Americas, Newington NSW

Posted Flock & Herd December 2019


The Peri Urban Program was established in August 2015 to address biosecurity risks within the peri-urban sphere. The program was initially piloted in the Greater Sydney as a partnership between NSW Department of Primary Industries (NSW DPI) and Greater Sydney Local Land Services (LLS).

The Peri Urban Program covers the urban-rural interface or urban fringe. It is a dynamic area or transitional zone consisting a mix of urban and rural activities, including a complex blend of commercial, rural-residential and varied agricultural uses. It incorporates more than just smallholders and includes the biosecurity risks associated with our gateways or ports. Peri urban areas are all over NSW, with larger regional centres experiencing growth in peri-urban communities. In Australia, peri-urban regions comprise < 3% land use but are responsible for 25% total gross value of agricultural production (GVAP).1

The Peri Urban Program addresses all biosecurity threats including animal and plant pests and diseases, weeds and pest animals.


Greater Sydney LLS was selected as the Program’s pilot location as it is the gateway to NSW. This region is pivotal in securing market access for the $17.5 billion NSW primary industries sector2, and has long been recognised as a high biosecurity risk area for NSW.

The risks continue to grow for this region, due to the large number of international travellers, movement of imported goods through major ports and a high density of smallholders, increased urbanisation, globalisation, climatic changes, changing demographics, cultural diversity and the increase of emerging plant, animal and zoonotic diseases. Effective management of the biosecurity risks in Greater Sydney will protect and improve the whole of NSW’s agricultural economy.

Since its inception, more than 20 projects have been undertaken as part of the Peri Urban Program, including the development of four online education programs for veterinarians, hobby farmers and school-aged children; delivery of some 25 seminars and workshops; engagement with more than 50 stakeholder organisations and 250 individuals. All projects and campaigns are focused on either increasing our understanding of this sector of the industry or raising awareness of good biosecurity practices to bring about positive behaviour change.

To establish the foundations of good engagement, the Program undertook a series of investigations seeking to better understand peri-urban smallholders. Much of the research undertaken was part of the Australian Government’s Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper initiative for stronger farmers and a stronger economy.

The pilot program has enabled NSW DPI and LLS to better understand peri-urban smallholders, their attitudes and behaviours in relation to biosecurity. These insights have been used to deliver targeted engagement and capacity building efforts to achieve improved biosecurity outcomes.


The Program is moving into an exciting new phase from a pilot program partnering with Greater Sydney to being a NSW Peri Urban Biosecurity Program where we will welcome partners from all parts of the state to work with us to deliver education and training for peri-urban stakeholders. Under an expanded Program, we are reviewing our governance structure to ensure we continue to collaborate with all BFS technical groups, the appropriate LLS regions/staff as well as existing and new industry, community and other government stakeholders. We want to make sure we look outside of NSW DPI to gather insights and intelligence on the risks we are facing and the tools that are needed to address these risks on the ground.

The objectives of the state-wide program will continue to focus on:

We will continue to be responsible for overall delivery and governance of the Program. Where there is an identified smallholder or gateway biosecurity risk or need across more than one part of NSW, we will work with our partners to deliver:

The Program's currentactivities include:

If you would like to know more about the Program, get involved or discuss an opportunity for collaboration, please get in touch via peri-urban.biosecurity@dpi.nsw.gov.au or 0417 573 744.


  1. Houston, P. (2005) Revaluing the Fringe: Some Findings on the Value of Agricultural Production in Australia's Peri-Urban Regions. Geographical Research 43(2): 209–223
  2. NSW DPI. 2018. Performance, Data and Insights 2018. Second, revised edition, December 2018, page 6 www.dpi.nsw.gov.au Accessed 04 February 2019


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