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Fire ant zones

FAQS

Fire ant biosecurity zones are in place throughout areas of Queensland to restrict the movement of materials that could spread fire ants. 

Under the Biosecurity Act 2014, individuals and organisations whose activities involve the movement or storage of fire ant carriers have a general biosecurity obligation (GBO) to take all reasonable steps to ensure they do not spread fire ants.

The Biosecurity Regulation 2016 prescribes procedures that you must follow when moving or storing fire ant carriers.

Movement of soil

Fire ant biosecurity zone 1

  • Soil originating from a place within zone 1 can be moved to a place within zone 1 or zone 2. Measures outlined in the soil guideline should be followed.
  • Soil can be moved from its original place in zone 1 directly to a waste facility within either zone 1 or zone 2.

Fire ant biosecurity zone 2

  • Soil originating from a place within zone 2 can be moved within zone 2 only. Measures outlined in the soil guideline should be followed.
  • Movement to a place within zone 1 requires a Biosecurity Instrument Permit before movement takes place.
  • Soil can be moved from its original place in zone 2 directly to a waste facility in zone 2. Movement to a waste facility within zone 1 requires a Biosecurity Instrument Permit.

All movements of soil to outside of the fire ant biosecurity zones requires a Biosecurity Instrument Permit.

 

Movement of baled hay, straw or sugarcane, potted plants, turf, animal manure, mulch

To move these fire ant carriers from a place within fire ant biosecurity zone 1 or zone 2 you must either:

  • follow movement and storage procedures as outlined in the Biosecurity Regulation 2016. Easy to follow guidelines are available online; or
  • move the material directly to a waste facility, zone restrictions apply:
    • material originating within zone 1 can be moved to a waste facility within zone 1 or 2.
    • material originating within zone 2 can be moved to a waste facility within zone 2 only; or
  • move the material within 24 hours of it being at the original place.

If you are unable to fulfil the above conditions then you must request a Biosecurity Instrument Permit.

Fire ant nests may not always be visible on the surface. Immature nests could be on the site and wouldn’t be visible until they mature. Also, due to climatic reasons such as drought or heat, there may not be a visible mound as the nest structure could be completely underground in order to regulate the temperature of the nest. If you are working within the biosecurity zones, you should assume that fire ants are present.

Treating the soil is one option that is available. If you are moving soil within the fire ant biosecurity zones, you should follow one of these measures or a combination of these measures, to reduce the risk of spreading fire ants, these include:

  • Treating soil prior to excavation
  • Disturbing soil during or after excavation i.e. vigorously turn, crush, wash or screen
  • Taking soil from depth
  • Storing soil appropriately
  • Moving soil directly to a waste facility

Soil is an attractive carrier for fire ants and presents a significant risk to spread through human-assisted movement. All Queenslanders, including industry, have an obligation to take all reasonable steps to prevent the spread of live fire ants anywhere.

This more comprehensive soil guideline outlines additional measures that you can employ to minimise the likelihood of you spreading live fire ants, and to satisfy your general biosecurity obligation under the Biosecurity Act 2014.

You are not limited to these options, if you have alternatives strategies to apply the program is happy to consider additional options.

For more details, refer to the Managing Soil in Fire Ant Biosecurity Zones fact sheet, in the resources section.

Disturbing soil means one of the following or a combination of: 

  • vigorously turning,
  • crushing,
  • washing, or
  • screening of a soil stockpile

Stockpiles of soil should be disturbed:

  • every 21 days, and
  • 24 hours prior to moving the material to another location.

For more details, refer to the Managing Soil in Fire Ant Biosecurity Zones fact sheet, in the resources section.

Changes to the management of high risk materials such as animal manure, mulch, chitter, coal fines (and other quarry materials) mean it is no longer be a requirement to obtain a biosecurity instrument permit (BIP) to use ‘disturbance’ as a means of risk mitigation.

Disturbance of soil involves one of the following or a combination of:

  • vigorous turning
  • crushing
  • washing or
  • screening a soil stockpile

Stockpiles of soil should be disturbed:

  • every 21 days and
  • 24 hours prior to moving the material to another location

For more details, refer to the Managing Soil in Fire Ant Biosecurity Zones fact sheet, in the resources section.

It is strongly recommended that individuals and businesses keep comprehensive records about any soil movement; and the steps taken to minimise the likelihood of fire ants being moved or becoming established. Written records should be kept showing the steps taken to ensure the soil is inspected, stored and moved correctly, including chemical treatments applied and/or disturbance activities undertaken. This may include:

  • dated, written records of the risk mitigation measures undertaken and the details of where the soil has been taken from/to
  • photographs, site plans and surveyor’s records
  • receipts and records of treatment applied by a licensed pest manager

These records should be kept for a minimum of two years. They may be requested by program inspectors who conduct random compliance checks to ensure businesses and individuals are complying with fire ant movement controls. Penalties for not complying with movement controls apply under the Act and other relevant legislation.

For more details, refer to the Managing Soil in Fire Ant Biosecurity Zones fact sheet, in the resources section.

Before moving soil in the fire ant zones, you should ensure you employ a risk mitigation measure to minimise the risk of moving live fire ants in soil. If you are working within the biosecurity zones, you should assume that fire ants are present. Fire ant nests may not always be visible on the surface. Immature nests could be on the site and wouldn’t be visible until they mature. Also, due to climatic reasons such as drought or heat, there may not be a visible mound as the nest structure could be completely underground in order to regulate the temperature of the nest.

Recommendations for management of soil include:

  • Treating soil prior to excavation
  • Disturbing soil during or after excavation (i.e. vigorously turn, crush, wash or screen)
  • Taking soil from depth
  • Storing soil appropriately
  • Moving soil directly to a waste facility

Disturbance means undertaking one of the following or a combination of: 

  • vigorously turning,
  • crushing,
  • washing, or
  • screening a soil stockpile.

Stockpiles of soil should be disturbed

  • every 21 days, and
  • 24 hours prior to moving the material to another location.

For more details, refer to the Managing Soil in Fire Ant Biosecurity Zones fact sheet, in the resources section.

Everyone is responsible for ensuring that they abide by the Biosecurity Regulations 2016 and do everything reasonable and practical to not spread fire ants. As a principal contractor this may include applying a risk mitigation measure to any carriers that are required to be transported off site, and ensuring that any employees or subcontractors are aware of their obligations. As a subcontractor this may include confirming that risk mitigation has taken place and obtaining the documentation to support that, conducting a visual inspection of the carrier, or applying additional risk mitigation measures. Each situation is different, and if you are unsure of your obligations, please refer to the Soil Movement Guideline in the resources section or call 13 25 23 and request to speak to one of our compliance officers.

Everyone needs to play their part in the fight against fire ants. If you are aware of a business or individual who is in breach of the Biosecurity Regulations 2016, we encourage you to report the non-compliance to the National Red Imported Fire Ant Eradication Program on 13 25 23. You may remain anonymous.

The National Red Imported Fire Ant Eradication Program’s Ten Year Eradication Plan has concentrated on eradicating fire ants in the west of the infestation, while containing and suppressing them in the east. It makes sense for the biosecurity zones to protect this treated area.

With initial reports in the current eradication area, in parts of the Lockyer Valley, Scenic Rim and the Ipswich City local government looking promising, the program needs to protect the area from re-infestation. We don’t want to undo all the good work we and those communities have already done eradicating fire ants in that area.

The Biosecurity Regulation 2016 has been amended to provide extra protection for areas that have undergone fire ant eradication activities and reduce the chance of the super pest spreading through human-assisted movement. The changes are:

  • The three fire ant biosecurity zones reduced to two zones. This provides greater consistency for movement controls for fire ant carriers across South East Queensland (SEQ).
  • Encompasses all known fire ant infestation. This means that new suburbs are included for first time.
  • To avoid reinfestation in areas already treated for eradication, more stringent rules apply for the disposal of untreated materials into eradication areas.
  • Some biosecurity instrument permits (BIPs) are no longer be required. Companies already applying ‘disturbance’ to fire ant carriers are no longer required to hold a permit as long as they follow this risk mitigation technique, now included in the regulation.
  • A new guideline is available which provides greater clarity on the movement of soil.

The movement of soil is one of the highest risks for spreading fire ants. To address this risk, a soil guideline has been developed under the Biosecurity Act 2014 to provide clarity to the businesses that deal with soil about what measures can be undertaken to reduce the risk of spreading fire ants.

Soil originating from a place within zone 1 can be moved to a place within zone 1 or zone 2.

Soil originating from a place within zone 2 can be moved within zone 2 only.

If you are moving soil within the fire ant biosecurity zones, you should follow one of the following measures to reduce the risk of spreading fire ants (the guideline provides detailed information for each measure), these include:

  • Treating soil prior to excavation
  • Disturbing soil during or after excavation (i.e. vigorously turn, crush, wash or screen)
  • Taking soil from depth
  • Storing soil appropriately
  • Moving soil directly to a waste facility

Disturbing soil means one of the following or a combination of:

  • vigorously turning,
  • crushing,
  • washing, or
  • screening a soil stockpile.

Stockpiles should be disturbed:

  • every 21 days, and
  • 24 hours prior to moving the material to another location.

Please refer to the Managing Soil fact sheet for more details of recommended risk mitigation activities.

Note — Soil includes: fill, clay, scrapings, and any material removed from the ground at a site where earthworks are being carried out.

Soil is an attractive carrier for fire ants and presents a significant risk to spread through human-assisted movement. All Queenslanders, including industry, have an obligation to take all reasonable steps to prevent the spread of live fire ants anywhere.

This more comprehensive soil guideline outlines additional measures that you can employ to minimise the likelihood of you spreading live fire ants, and to satisfy your general obligation under the Biosecurity Act 2014.

You are not limited to these options, if you have alternatives strategies to apply the program is happy to consider additional options.

If you are working within the biosecurity zones you should assume that fire ants are present. Fire ant nests may not always be visible on the surface. Immature nests could be on the site and wouldn’t be visible until they mature. Also, due to climatic reasons such as drought or heat, there may not be a visible mound as the nest structure could be completely underground in order to regulate the temperature of the nest.

Yes, but they are minor. Changes to the management of high risk materials such as animal manure, mulch, chitter, coal fines (and other quarry materials) mean it is no longer a requirement to obtain a biosecurity instrument permit (BIP) to use ‘disturbance’ as a means of risk mitigation.

Disturbance involves vigorous and thorough turning, screening, crushing or washing stockpiled material every 21 days and 24 hours prior to moving the material.

Please refer to the relevant carrier fact sheet for the full list of requirements.

Although changes to the fire ant biosecurity zones were necessary to protect the Australian way of life, the program is focused on how to make it easier for industry to do the right thing in the fight against fire ants. As such, the potential impacts include:

  • new suburbs are included in the fire ant biosecurity zones. The fire ant biosecurity suburbs register shows a list of suburbs that fall within fire ant biosecurity zones. If you are a resident or business in one of these zones, it is essential to familiarise yourself with the management techniques for fire ant carriers as prescribed in the Biosecurity Regulation 2016*.
  • new guidelines to mitigate the risk of moving fire ants while transporting soil have been added. You may need to plan your work activities to match the new options to your site needs.
  • companies relying on software tools to guide their operational activities within the fire ant biosecurity zones should update their systems to reflect these changes.
  • individuals can request that contractors follow fire ant movement controls at all times. Everyone in Queensland has a general biosecurity obligation (GBO) to take all reasonable steps to avoid spread this pest. By asking this question when hiring a high risk industry you are discharging your obligations.
  • taking untreated carriers to waste facilities within the eradication zone may require a permit.

*If you are unable to meet the requirements that are prescribed and have an alternative method for reducing the risk of fire ant spread, you can request a biosecurity instrument permit. A compliance inspector will review your application and undertake a risk assessment. If it is approved, you will be given a permit outlining the relevant conditions for the movement of that material.

Fire ants are a super pest and spread by ground, flight, in flood water and through human-assisted movement. While in some other countries fire ants have been know to spread at 80 kilometres a years, the incursion has been contained to a relatively small area of south east Queensland. Without the work of the program, fire ants could have spread north to Mackay, west to Cunnamulla and south to Wollongong. In addition, the program has applied eradication treatment to over 150,000 hectares with positive results.

Treating the soil is one option that is available. If you are moving soil within the fire ant biosecurity zones, you should follow one of these measures to reduce the risk of spreading fire ants, these include:

  • Treating soil prior to excavation
  • Disturbing soil during or after excavation (vigorously turning, crushing, washing or screening a soil stockpile)
  • Taking soil from depth
  • Storing soil appropriately
  • Moving soil directly to a waste facility

Soil that is to be taken off-site should be disturbed before it is moved to another location. Disturbing soil means one of the following or a combination of:

  • vigorously turning,
  • crushing,
  • washing, or
  • screening a stockpile.

Stockpiles of soil should be disturbed

  • every 21 days, and
  • 24 hours prior to moving the material to another location. 

For more details, refer to the Managing Soil in Fire Ant Biosecurity Zones fact sheet, in the resources section.

Yes, you should assume that soil within the biosecurity zones is likely to contain live fire ants whether they are evident on the surface or not. Soil is an attractive carrier for fire ants and presents a significant risk to spread through human-assisted movement. All Queenslanders, including industry, have an obligation to take all reasonable steps to prevent the spread of live fire ants anywhere.

This more comprehensive soil guideline outlines additional measures that you can employ to minimise the likelihood of you spreading live fire ants, and to satisfy your general biosecurity obligation under the Biosecurity Act 2014.

You are not limited to these options if you have alternative strategies to apply, and the program is happy to consider additional options.

For more details, refer to the Managing Soil in Fire Ant Biosecurity Zones fact sheet, in the resources section.

Businesses do not require a BIP if they are following the soil guidelines as well as the rules around movement between zones outlined below:

  • Soil originating from a place within zone 1 can be moved to a place within zone 1 or zone 2.
  • Soil can be moved from its original place in zone 1 directly to a waste facility within either zone 1 or zone 2.
  • Soil originating from a place within zone 2 can be moved within zone 2 only.
  • Movement to a place within zone 1 requires a Biosecurity Instrument Permit before movement takes place.
  • Soil can be moved from its original place in zone 2 directly to a waste facility in zone 2. Movement to a waste facility within zone 1 requires a Biosecurity Instrument Permit.

Please note: All movements of soil to outside of the fire ant biosecurity zones requires a Biosecurity Instrument Permit (BIP).

Soil is different to the other carriers. For the other carriers e.g. turf, potted plants, hay etc, if you follow the procedures for treatment/storage in the Regulation you can move the product within and out of the zones.

The movement of soil is one of the highest risks for spreading fire ants. The soil guideline was developed to provide additional measures so businesses can minimise the likelihood of spreading live fire ants, and to satisfy their general biosecurity obligation.

Businesses are not limited to these options if they have alternative strategies to apply, the program is happy to consider additional options.

For more details, refer to the Managing Soil in Fire Ant Biosecurity Zones fact sheet, in the resources section.

Yes. If you intend to move soil or other fire ant carriers outside of the prescribed measures set out in the regulation.

Movement of soil

Fire ant biosecurity zone 1

  • Soil originating from a place within zone 1 can be moved to a place within zone 1 or zone 2. Measures outlined in the soil guideline should be followed.
  • Soil can be moved from its original place in zone 1 directly to a waste facility within either zone 1 or zone 2.

Fire ant biosecurity zone 2

  • Soil originating from a place within zone 2 can be moved within zone 2 only. Measures outlined in the soil guideline should be followed.
  • Movement to a place within zone 1 requires a Biosecurity Instrument Permit before movement takes place.
  • Soil can be moved from its original place in zone 2 directly to a waste facility in zone 2. Movement to a waste facility within zone 1 requires a Biosecurity Instrument Permit.

All movements of soil to outside of the fire ant biosecurity zones requires a Biosecurity Instrument Permit.

 

Movement of baled hay, straw or sugarcane, potted plants, turf, animal manure, mulch

To move these fire ant carriers from a place within fire ant biosecurity zone 1 or zone 2 you must either:

  • follow movement and storage procedures as outlined in the Biosecurity Regulation 2016. Easy to follow guidelines are available online; or
  • move the material directly to a waste facility, zone restrictions apply:
    • material originating within zone 1 can be moved to a waste facility within zone 1 or 2.
    • material originating within zone 2 can be moved to a waste facility within zone 2 only; or
  • move the material within 24 hours of it being at the original place.

If you are unable to fulfil the above conditions then you must request a Biosecurity Instrument Permit.

Biosecurity officers conduct random compliance checks to ensure businesses and individuals are complying with the procedures outlined in the Biosecurity Regulation 2016 when moving or storing a fire ant carrier.

It is an offence if you do not comply with movement controls within fire ant biosecurity zones. Breaches of these controls can potentially impact the community, economy and the environment.

Penalty infringement notices can be issued to companies and individuals who move soil, turf, pot plants, hay, mulch or other materials that may carry fire ants. Penalties for non-compliance apply under the Biosecurity Act 2014.

Certain waste facilities within fire ant biosecurity zones in South East Queensland can accept material that may carry fire ants.

Contact the waste facility directly to discuss specific requirements and opening hours.

We recommend that you check with the operator for any pre-entry requirements.

Yes, but subject to certain requirements:

If moving material that may carry fire ants directly to a waste facility, zone restrictions apply:

  • Material originating within zone 1 can be moved to a waste facility within zone 1 or 2.
  • Material originating within zone 2 can only be moved to a waste facility within zone 2 unless you have a biosecurity instrument permit.