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Published: 2001-11-15 00:00:00

Purple nutsedge growing in the Matamata area is being targeted under Environment Waikato’s proposed Regional Pest Management Strategy.

Environment Waikato has proposed a new strategy to attack plant and animal pests in the Region.

The strategy outlines the way it will manage plant and animal pests over the next five years. There are management programmes, with different levels of regional participation proposed, for 71 plant pests, such as old man’s beard, spartina and privet and 22 animal pests, such as possums, goats, koi carp and magpies.

In the Matamata area, the invasive plant purple nutsedge is being targeted as a serious weed problem because of its ability to compete with agricultural crops, smothering them and removing large amounts of nutrients and moisture from the soil.

Environment Waikato would like to eradicate the plant but no effective methods are available so the aim is to stop its spread to new areas by machinery contaminated with parts of the nutsedge plant.

The Council is proposing to declare at risk farms to be restricted places under the Biosecurity Act, which means the movement of goods could be restricted until machinery leaving properties was inspected and found to be ‘clean’ of any hitch-hiking pest fragments.

The past focus on pasture weeds, such as ragwort and thistles, has gradually shifted to new, environmentally damaging plants which are just establishing in the Region.

Changes in farming practices, particularly in dairying over the past three to four years, have reduced ragwort and thistle infestations. While there are still rules for these weeds, they have become less significant in the overall Strategy.

Privet is linked to triggering asthma in sufferers at certain times of the year. Its berries are poisonous and can make children and stock ill. It is also acknowledged as a serious ecological pest. Under the new proposed rules, Environment Waikato can enforce its removal in both urban and rural areas if a neighbour makes a health related complaint.

There are also changes proposed in the approach to cleaning up roadside verges. Transit New Zealand is responsible for all state highway verges from “fence to fence” and local roads have a mix of different responsibilities.

Written submissions must be in to the Council by Friday, November 23. Hearings will be held in March next year.

Copies of the Strategy are available from Environment Waikato’s offices in Hamilton, Paeroa and Taupo, public libraries and on the Council’s website, www.ew.govt.nz. People can also obtain a copy from Environment Waikato's Freephone 0800 800 401.