Pest management - community feedback received

Environment Canterbury today released the results of a discussion document on the future of pest management in Canterbury. It also announced that the expiry date for the current Regional Pest Management Plan would be extended to June 2017.

Commissioner Tom Lambie thanked farmers and the wider community for participating in the first step of a comprehensive review of the current Canterbury Regional Pest Management Plan.

“We were very pleased with the number and quality of responses,” Mr Lambie said. “They indicate the importance the community places on pest management now and for the future. We held 13 public meetings around the region and received 97 replies. These will be used to inform the consultation phase, which will start later this year.”

Feedback on the discussion document showed general agreement with the proposed change in focus of the new plan towards greater priority on prevention, early intervention and pest risk pathway management, but not at the expense of controlling existing pests.

“Most feedback on legacy pest management supported the proposed move away from property-specific compliance inspections to a focus on strategies to manage inter-property spread, and protecting clear areas and those with high environmental values, as well as applying a Good Neighbour rule,” Mr Lambie said.

“Pest management is an important part of the sustainable management of natural resources. Our Biosecurity programme aims to achieve smart management of pest risks.”

Over the last 20 years, pest management in Canterbury has focused primarily on the management of legacy pests that affect production land, such as broom, gorse, rabbits, Bennett’s wallaby and nassella tussock.

“We have committed significant resources to the management of legacy pests that affect production land,” Mr Lambie said. “Some legacy pests may need a different approach to control and funding; for example, a regional rate for wallaby control.”

Environment Canterbury is proposing a change in the way we undertake pest management, focusing more on preventing new pests entering the region. “This would help us become more resilient, with pests managed for both production land and biodiversity protection purposes,” Mr Lambie said.

The new direction would place more responsibility on individual landowners to manage pests on their properties themselves, with compliance inspections focusing more on preventing pest spread to neighbouring properties. The review will also make sure our plan is aligned with neighbouring regions’ to help prevent new pests arriving here.

“This presents an opportunity for more proactive initiatives, such as the inclusion of pest management in on-farm biosecurity plans,” Mr Lambie said.

“Environment Canterbury would have more of a leadership role, particularly in the early stages of pest infestation, with more emphasis on advice, education and working with the community.”

Meanwhile, at its meeting on 16 June 2016 the Environment Canterbury Council resolved to extend the expiry date of the current Canterbury Regional Pest Management Plan to 30 June 2017. “The extension will allow us to consider the feedback we have received comprehensively, and ensure we are consistent with the National Policy Direction for Pest Management and plans being prepared by other regional councils,” Mr Lambie said.

A new Regional Pest Management Plan for Canterbury should be operative by mid-2017.

For a summary of the discussion document feedback, go to www.ecan.govt.nz/pestreview