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Published: 2002-06-05 00:00:00

Environment Waikato has approved its new Regional Pest Management Strategy, which sets out the future direction and policies for managing plant and animal pests in the Region for the next five years.

The strategy sets out programmes for 85 plant pests and 22 animal pests which Environment Waikato believes warrant regional intervention, and which will impose obligations and costs on individuals and the regional community. Submissions have come from the community, and many requests have been incorporated into the final document.

Included in the new strategy are increased biological control for control of plant pests, greater direct control for animal pests such as feral goats and possums, extended total control standards for ragwort, pampas and nodding and plumeless thistle, increases in site-led pest management initiatives in high conservation value sites, and no increase in the Biosecurity Works and Services rate.

Landowners can apply for a remission of the rate where they have native bush or wetlands which are fully fenced to effectively exclude grazing stock from July next year.

The new Strategy will cost $2.9 million to implement in the first year, rising to just under $3.2 million by year five, with $270,000 more spending in direct control work and funding community initiatives, research and monitoring. The Biosecurity rate will be capped for five years at the 2001 level and the general rate will increase to fund additional work.

Biosecurity Group Manager John Simmons said that substantial gains were made under the Council’s first strategy, which expires next month.

These include reducing known sites of nassella tussock and African feather grass to near zero, removal of privet from some rural towns, more development in biological control methods, and substantial reductions in rook populations.

A total of 70,000 hectares was covered by community possum control schemes, wallaby populations were reduced, pest control was carried out in more than 30 high conservation value areas, and plant pest monitoring and surveillance done over the whole Region.

Biosecurity Committee chairperson Helen Lane said the process in developing the strategy was not easy and there were many difficult issues to deal with. The result was a very good document that would carry the Council through the next five years.

Cr Evan Penny said the strategy had a much sounder basis than the earlier proposal, although the content was not much different. He was pleased that it recognised the progressive gains being made.