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Landowners join EW, DoC to battle possums

Environment Waikato and DoC are working with landowners around Mt Karioi to control possums in this ecologically important area.

The organisations are visiting neighbouring landowners, iwi and user groups over the next couple of months to talk about options for an up coming possum control operation to protect bush and surrounding farmland from possum damage. They will talk through the various options for control to decide on the most appropriate method.

Mt Karioi has been damaged by high possum and goat numbers, affecting one of the few remaining coastal forests on the west coast of the North Island. The area is the largest coastal forest between North Auckland and Taranaki.

Steady improvements have been made in ground cover vegetation and the sub-canopy of the bush by controlling goats. Control started in 1994 and has reduced goats to very low numbers. Improvements have also been made in the canopy vegetation following possum control operations in 1994 and 1999 but ongoing possum control is required in ensure long term forest protection, Environment Waikato Biosecurity Operations Manager Peter Russell said.

DoC has funding for possum control on Mt Karioi and within the Te Toto Gorge, and Environment Waikato had set aside money to fund pest control on areas of privately owned bush adjoining to the mountain for landowners who choose to be part of the operation.

There were both ecological and farming benefits in controlling possums, he said. Removing possums puts less grazing pressure on grass, improved production of fruit, vegetable and forestry crops, lowered the risk of Tb and allowed recovery of native bush.

It also improves food sources for native birds and reduces the cost of pest control on farms.

He said Environment Waikato and DoC had worked together with landowners on many other sites in the Region and had achieved good results on both private and public land, including Mt Pirongia and the Coromandel.

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