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Published: 2013-03-28 00:00:00

Waikato Regional Council has today signed off on its 10-year plant and animal pest management plan, which is now open for public consultation.

Pest management is one of the council’s largest expenditure areas, with about $7 million to be spent on prioritised work in this coming year. The work directly benefits many ratepayers, with effective management of these pests in the Waikato supporting the environment and economy. 

The proposed Regional Pest Management Plan (RPMP) describes why and how various plant and animal pests will be controlled in the Waikato region. 

Submissions on the proposed RPMP, which is available to read online, close at 4pm on Friday 3 May and will help the council to prioritise its resources and work over the next decade. 

Changes made by the Government last year have affected how the regional council delivers pest control and other biosecurity services. One very positive change is that the Crown must now contribute to the cost of pest control where the spread of pests from Crown land is causing damage and costs to private landowners. 

Much of the proposed plan is the same as previous years because the underlying pest issues have not changed. However, the following changes are proposed: 

  • The rule for controlling privet could change to require a positive allergy test before a privet tree could be removed on health grounds. While these trees do have a highly scented flower, research shows it is not a strong allergen for most people. In other words, it’s unlikely that privet is the cause of the allergy symptoms from which so many people suffer. The concern is that the council may be spending significant time and money on controlling privet when it is not the main cause of most people’s allergies. 
  • Tutsan is a weed that seriously threatens the economics of hill country farming. A new rule would require all tutsan on a property to be destroyed.  
  • Velvet leaf, a new pest in the proposed RPMP, is a recent weed incursion in the Waikato having been found on one farm in North Waikato and six farms in the Waihou area. It is one of the most damaging weeds to corn and maize crops, aggressively competing with them for nutrients and water, and thereby lowering crop yield. 
  • On the animal side, Canada goose would not be a pest, but the plan does allow the council to work collaboratively with landowners, hunters and other agencies to control them in certain circumstances.  
  • Possum control remains a top priority and changes have been proposed to deliver more control for less money over the long term. We would not automatically fund continued possum control in all areas when the Animal Health Board decides that bovine tuberculosis (Tb) is no longer a threat. Instead, we plan to include former Tb areas in the same scoring prioritisation process as other areas in the region. 

Visit www.waikatoregion.govt.nz/rpmp-review to read the proposed RPMP and to make an online submission. Adoption of the final plan is scheduled for June 2013.