In 2010 the Invasive Animals Cooperative Research Centre (IACRC) embarked on an ambitious multi-faceted extension project aimed at distilling the organisations seven years of research into a series of expert-compiled factsheets, case studies, practical guides, technical reports and videos, to be known as the PestSmart Toolkit. Additionally, as the organisation was responsible for developing and delivering 14 new pest animal management products and four product use extensions for wild dogs, feral pigs, foxes, rabbits, rodents and feral cats, it was deemed essential that extension efforts promote the organisations product pipeline and achievements before its potential demise in July 2012. This led to the development of the PestSmart Roadshow concept. Backed by IACRC-commissioned end user research the PestSmart project developed throughout 2010 and 2011 into the largest single pest animal extension effort undertaken anywhere in the world.
The PestSmart Toolkit, housed at www.feral.org.au/pestsmart, is now Australia’s one-stop-shop for pest animal information. With over 60 specifically written factsheets, case-studies, glovebox guides, technical manuals and scientific reports produced, the site contains the most up-to-date information on Australian pest animals anywhere. Furthermore, an additional 50 PestSmart Toolkit products are currently in production and should be available by the end of 2012. Additionally a PestSmart YouTube Channel has been established - http://www.youtube.com/PestSmart – which now contains 64 original videos shot by the IACRC that demonstrate practical pest management, pest ecology and pest impacts, including interviews with farmers and species experts. Despite its short existence, over 10,000 videos have been viewed at the PestSmart YouTube Channel.
The PestSmart Roadshow was been organised by the 15-member IACRC-convenedAdoption Steering Group throughout 2011. Throughout 2011 ASG members also attended existing agricultural and natural resource management conferences and field days, such as the Northern Beef Research Update Conference, various state and national NRM forums, key freshwater fishery events and agricultural field days in Queensland and New South Wales. In 2012 the location-tailored PestSmart Roadshow events were launched in Queanbeyan on January 30, before taking in another 19 regional venues across Australia, as well as organising national pest fish workshops on European carp and tilapia, over the proceeding five months. Near 1,500 people subsequently attended the PestSmart Roadshow events, with thousands more seeing, hearing or reading about the events in the associated radio, television and newspaper articles.
Whether indicated through increasing usage of the PestSmart Toolkit website and You Tube channel, direct attendee feedback at Roadshow events, community support, increased product sales or calls for more Roadshow events, the PestSmart project has been a resounding success. This is in part due to the financial and physical support received for the project from Meat & Livestock Australia Ltd, Australia Wool Innovation Ltd, the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences and Murray Darling Basin Authority. For this the IACRC is sincerely grateful.
Overall the PestSmart project has cost c. $1M, including MLA’s $108,500 contribution. If the project results in only a slight change in pest animal management behaviour in Australia and a 1% reduction in the $750M p.a. pest animal impact to Australian agriculture then it has been financially worthwhile. Early indications are that this change will be exceeded.