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Waitomo’s Climbing Plants in Pest Strategy

New climbing plants being found in the Waitomo area are under the spotlight in Environment Waikato’s Regional Pest Management Strategy, which is now open for submissions.

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 Waitomo area the strategy focuses on new climber plants, such as Chilean flame creeper, climbing spindleberry and white bryony in an effort to eliminate them before they become established and expensive to control. The same approach was taken with old man’s beard over the last 15 years and good results have been achieved.

Environment Waikato will be working with the Department of Conservation to identify these new threats and control them quickly.

Plant Pest Officer for the area, Andy Laurenson says he will be taking special interest in locating these pests and destroying them to ensure they do not get a hold in Waitomo.

The problem plants suppress native species by shading and smothering, and can cause considerable environmental damage to native forests, sometimes restricting access to recreational areas.

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.

If the terrain is difficult or steep, the local council will be responsible for plant pest clearance and if the area is mowable or able to be grazed the adjoining neighbour is responsible.

Written submissions to the Strategy 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(external link). People can also obtain a copy from Environment Waikato's Freephone 0800 800 401.

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