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Published: 2003-09-11 00:00:00

Landowners in the northern Taupo and southern Rotorua areas have decided against tighter controls on ragwort and thistles on their land.

Environment Waikato’s Biosecurity Committee heard this week that rural landowners in Rotorua and north Taupo were surveyed to find out if they wanted to extend total control standards for nodding thistle and ragwort to their area. During development of the Regional Pest Management Strategy there were a number of submissions asking the Council to extend the total control areas in the Region.

One of the main reasons was the increase in dairy farm conversions, and a perceived increase in infestations of pasture pests on hill country properties previously grazed by sheep. The core dairy country in the Region is under total control while all other land has a 50 metre boundary control standard to help minimise infestation to neighbouring properties, Programme Manager Peter Russell said.

With current boundary control areas some might not want to change the standard, others may want to tighten control to keep their properties ‘clean’. Seventy five percent of owners needed to support a change to the rules.

Ragwort was seen as a very significant pest by half the landowners in the Rotorua area, but by only 40 percent of the Taupo landowners. Nodding thistle was considered significant by half the Taupo landowners, while half the Rotorua landowners thought it was not significant. Most realised the pests could get out of control if not dealt with regularly.

Many thought it was important for Environment Waikato to more actively manage the current boundary control standards for ragwort and nodding thistle in their area. Good management meant less re-infestation from neighbouring properties.

However support did not reach the 75 percent threshold for either ragwort or nodding thistle in both areas, mainly because of cost, and because farmers thought the weeds were being effectively controlled under the current standard. Several thought Environment Waikato could be more proactive in releasing biological control agents.

More effort may be needed to enforce the current boundary control rule before attempting to increase the control standard, he said.

The Committee recommended the Council increase its efforts in ensuring compliance with boundary control rules.