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Published: 2007-05-24 00:00:00

Land owners on the Coromandel Peninsula are actively supporting Peninsula Project plans for animal pest control to be undertaken on both public conservation land and private land in the area from Manaia to Koputauaki Bay.

The Peninsula Project involves Environment Waikato, Department of Conservation (DOC), Thames-Coromandel District Council and Hauraki Maori Trust Board working together to improve the health of the environment and better protect people and property from flooding.

In 2004, the government contributed $10 million to the Peninsula Project. As part of the government’s contribution, DOC was allocated $4.7 million over a five year period for possum and goat control on land it administers in the Thames coast area.

To support this work, private land owners who want possums and feral goats controlled on their properties can have the operation managed by DOC and funded through Environment Waikato rates.

“Land owners benefit on many levels from this work – not only do they have the security of better flood protection, they also report the added bonus of increased numbers of native birds where pest control operations have been carried out,” said Environment Waikato Coromandel councillor Arthur Hinds.

“But to ensure we get the best results, we’re integrating animal pest control operations with flood protection and river and catchment management works – and we’ve made some significant progress.”

Over the past two years the Peninsula Project team has completed two aerial 1080 possum control operations over approximately 25,000 hectares of land on the ranges along the Thames coast. This was supported by a ground-based possum control operation over another 14,000 hectares.

Around 1500 feral goats have also been hunted and removed from approximately 15,000 hectares of land.

“There’s a perception out there that 1080 is the only method of pest control we use, but in actual fact, across the Waikato region ground-based control methods are used the most – mainly bait stations and some trapping,” said Cr Hinds.

“We also spend a lot of time meeting with land owners and other people in the community to discuss the detail of these operations. And before carrying out any control work on private land, DOC staff meet with land owners to discuss control options and agree on the most acceptable and practical method of control for their property.

“Pest control is all-important to our goal of long-term flood protection. Ridding the peninsula of possums and goats will allow our forests to recover, and healthy forests are essential to improving the stability of the catchment and river system,” Cr Hinds said.

“This approach is really starting to pay off and people are seeing that the forests are in better shape. This is good news as we head into winter because ultimately healthier forests help reduce the impact of flooding.”

Cr Hinds said a newsletter updating people on Peninsula Project activities would be delivered to more than 4500 people on the western side of the Coromandel Peninsula over the next week.