A case study of the Australian plague locust commission and environmental due diligence: Why mere legislative compliance is no longer sufficient for environmentally responsible locust control in Australia

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Abstract

The Australian Plague Locust Commission (APLC) manages locust populations across 2 million square kilometers of eastern Australia using the aerial application of chemical and biological control agents to protect agricultural production. This occurs via a preventative control strategy involving ultralow-volume spray equipment to distribute small droplets of control agent over a target area. The economic costs of, and potential gains stemming from, locust control are well documented. The application of insecticides, however, to fragile arid and semiarid ecosystems is a task that brings with it both real and perceived environmental issues. The APLC is proactive in addressing these issues through a combination of targeted environmental operational research, an ISO-14001-aligned Environmental Management System (EMS), and links with environmental regulatory and research institutions. Increasing due diligence components within Australian environmental legislation dictate that mere legislative compliance is no longer sufficient for industries to ensure that they meet their environmental obligations. The development of external research links and the formulation of an EMS for locust control have enabled the APLC to identify environmental issues and trends, quantify objective environmental targets and strategies, and facilitate continuous improvement in its environmental performance, while maintaining stakeholder support. This article outlines the environmental issues faced by the APLC, the research programs in place to address these issues, and the procedures in place to incorporate research findings into the organization's operational structure.

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