NATION

Work On Containing, Controlling The Asian Subterranean Termites Progresses Well

Seven years after the outbreak of the Asian Subterranean Termites (AST) in Fiji, work on containing and controlling the spread of this invasive pest is progressing well. The Biosecurity Authority
24 Oct 2016 11:00
Work On Containing, Controlling The Asian Subterranean Termites Progresses Well
BAF

Seven years after the outbreak of the Asian Subterranean Termites (AST) in Fiji, work on containing and controlling the spread of this invasive pest is progressing well. The Biosecurity Authority of Fiji (BAF) has put in a lot of effort in managing and containing the spread of AST in the country.

To date, more than 1555 homes, 54 Schools, 711 trees and farms have been treated by BAF.

 

Some of the major activities undertaken by BAF to contain and control the spread of AST in Fiji include:

 

  1. Treatment of AST infested properties

One of the major initiatives undertaken by BAF in containing and controlling efforts of AST is providing treatment to AST infested properties and farms.

The Fijian Government, through BAF, is providing all treatments for AST infested homes, properties and farms totally free since the outbreak of the invasive pest in 2010.

This initiative of the Fijian Government is to ease the families affected by AST infestation of the burden of costly treatments. BAF is using Termiticide Termidor for treatment, control and management of AST. This chemical (powder, liquid and foam formulations) is procured from Australia and is extremely expensive.

 

  1. Biosecurity emergency declaration

There is a Declaration on Biosecurity Emergency Areas for Asian Subterranean Termites in place for the areas of Lautoka District in the Ba Province and Labasa District in the Macuata Province.

Under this Emergency Declaration, movement of all stages of the Asian Subterranean Termites (C. gestroi) including eggs, or of any material hosting C. gestroi, into or out of the declared Biosecurity Emergency areas shall be strictly prohibited.

Host materials include C.  gestroi nests, soil, potted plants, wood, logs, timber, lumber, kindling, planks, wooden building materials, wooden furniture, live plants, harvested host plants (pine, mango, cassava, coconut tree and sugarcane), and articles made of cellulose (books, papers, clothing, textiles).

Pursuant to sections 79 (3) and 94 of the Biosecurity Promulgation 2008, any person who contravenes any direction made pursuant to this Declaration, commits an offence and will be liable to the penalties prescribed under Schedule 5 to the Biosecurity Promulgation 2008.

The Declaration is to restrict the movement of AST from infested to non-infested areas and contain this exotic pest for better management.

 

  1. Enhancing and expanding capacity for BAF Termites Team

Over the years BAF has put in a lot of effort in enhancing and expanding the capacity of the BAF termite team to provide more efficient and effective services to the Fijian communities affected by AST.

BAF has recruited additional staff as Temporary Biosecurity Officers (TBSOs) to work on providing treatment, monitoring and conducting surveillance for termites.

New vehicles has also been procured to provide complimentary back up, monitoring and treatment services in accessible and remote areas with specialized compartments, for the Termites Operations.

To better serve the AST affected households BAF has also commenced operations from its new office in Vomo Street, Lautoka.

 

  1. Use of latest technology

BAF has also invested in procuring specialised equipment and tools from Australia for the AST project. Special non-intrusive thermal imaging devices (cameras) are used to detect areas of high moisture and temperature gradients on affected structures.

Termites usually aggregate at feeding points emitting body heat and humidity which are detected by the sensors for easier location and tracking behind walls.

The devices can be used to track termite tunnels to the entry points into buildings and to apply measures to prevent them from entering. Wall tappers assist BAF personnel to detect and locate AST infestations behind wall structures via hollow sounds when tapped onto surfaces.

 

  1. Collaboration with various stakeholders

A number of collaborations have been formed with major stakeholders such as the Fiji Police Force, Land Transport Authority (LTA), Lautoka City Council, National Fire Authority (NFA), business communities, Tikina and Provincial Councils to create awareness for early detections and help in the control efforts.

BAF has also conducted AST training at Sugar Research Institute of Fiji (SRIF) which was followed by the AST survey on sugarcane farms in Lautoka.

BAF works closely with Fiji Sugar Corporation (FSC) and SRIF to monitor the harvesting and transportation of sugarcane from infested fields to the sugar mills for immediate processing. Infested fields use pre-treated sugarcane setts prior to planting and re-treating after a 90 days post planting period. BAF and SRIF staffs collaborate in setting up bait boxes in infested sugarcane fields for monitoring and control.

The Lautoka sugarcane and pine plantation areas are in very close proximity to the identified “hot-spot” areas of AST infestations that includes a number of sugarcane farms, Fiji Pine Limited’s; plantations and wooden infrastructures, hence farms and plantations are continuously monitored by BAF.

The Fiji National University (FNU) has had discussions also with BAF pertaining to AST National Delimiting Survey to involve their science students in inspections of their building infrastructure as some of them are heritage structures and need to be preserved in their original formats.

 

  1. Awareness and education

Over the years, BAF has mounted intensive awareness and education through mainstream media and community outreach programs on AST.

Many major awareness programmes have been conducted through all available media avenues to the Fijian public on what is AST, how to prevent AST from infesting homes and the do’s and don’ts in regards to AST.

BAF has installed billboards on AST around the country at the jetties, wharves, termite infested towns and cities to educate the Fijian public on restrictions on the movement of termite infested items from infested areas to non infested areas.

Advertisements on AST are broadcasted regularly on national radio and television stations.  BAF has also held a number of talk-back shows on AST and termite issues in general to educate people on the issue and also to answer all queries from the public.

Press releases are issued on regular basis together with regular columns in the local newspaper and media interviews to create awareness and update the public.

BAF has also held a number of road shows to create awareness on AST; particularly on biosecurity restrictions of moving termite infested items from infested areas to non-infested areas.

Apart from the media awareness, shows and education, BAF also indulges in school and community awareness too. Community education continues to take place on-site during visits of inspection, monitoring and treatments.

The public is imparted with knowledge about termites in general and what actions to take, as a proactive measure; in case they come across suspected termite cases in their homes/communities.

The Fijian Government has tasked BAF to monitor, control and manage this invasive alien species and work towards containing and controlling the spread of AST.

BAF is working in collaboration with all relevant stakeholders and partners in making a concerted effort against containing and controlling the spread of AST.

Assistance from external parties on the early detection of AST and rapid control measures to halt its establishment and spread needs to be employed.

An integrated pest management approach is a long term answer to AST problems.

AST poses a potentially significant social, economic and biosecurity risk in Fiji and BAF needs the support of all Fijians in controlling and containing this invasive pest.

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