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Published: 2003-06-16 00:00:00

Environment Waikato wants to know if rural landowners want to toughen up the rules on clearing ragwort and nodding thistle from northern Taupo and southern Rotorua Districts.

Over the next two weeks the Council’s Biosecurity Group will be undertaking a postal survey of rural landowners to find out their views. The Waikato Regional Pest Management Strategy (RPMS) declares both of these plants as significant economic pests in the Waikato Region, Pest Programme Manager Peter Russell said.

“During the development of the RPMS last year a number of submitters asked the Council to extend the total control standards for nodding thistle and ragwort to more areas of the Region. One of the main reasons for this was the increase in dairy farm conversions. People felt infestations of these pasture pests were increasing on hill country properties previously grazed by sheep, which control pasture pests to a degree.

The core ‘dairy country’ in the Region - Central Waikato and Coromandel - has a total control standard for these pests, meaning landowners are required to control the plants annually wherever they occur on their property.

All other parts of the Region, including Taupo and Rotorua Districts, currently have a 50m boundary control standard, meaning landowners must keep their properties clear of these pests each year back 50m from their external boundaries to help minimise infestations to neighbouring properties.

“In boundary control areas there may be little benefit to, or wish by, some landowners to change the standard but others may relish the prospect in a general drive to keep their properties ‘clean’. We want to find out if landowners want to change the standard applying to these two areas.”

The two areas to be surveyed include:

  • Rotorua area - (Atiamuri, Horohoro, Reporoa and the northern part of Waikite valley) – two thirds of which is in dairying, with 406 landowners.
  • Taupo area - (Kinloch, Tihoi, Mokai, Mangakino) – two thirds of the area is in pastoral farming with 155 landowners.

An individual letter will be sent to 560 landowners with properties over two hectares asking if they want to change the current boundary control to a total control standard. The survey form includes some basic background information about the current rule and the reasons behind possibly changing it.

The Council needs to have 75 percent of respondents supporting the rule change to create a new standard and any change would have to be adopted by Council.

“The Council’s long term goal is to ensure that the effects of these pasture pests are minimised and that communities can drive changes to rules, if desired, in response to changing farming practices.”