Biosecurity in Canterbury - decisions on Regional Pest Management Plan
Environment Canterbury announced that Council had accepted the recommendations of a Hearing Panel on the Canterbury Regional Pest Management Plan. Click here for more details about the purpose of the council meeting in detail.
Councillor Peter Skelton said this plan is the rulebook for biosecurity in Canterbury and forms a significant element of the overall approach to pest management.
“Pest threat management is an important part of the sustainable management of natural resources,” Professor Skelton said. “Recent serious incursions such as velvetleaf and mycoplasma bovis, plus the concerning prospect of the marmorated stink bug, have raised the profile of biosecurity risk nationally.
“Our Biosecurity programme aims to achieve smart management of pest risks. We reviewed the Regional Pest Management Plan to make sure the right rules are in place to manage existing and emerging pest threats, and to mitigate and prevent damage to biodiversity and production values in Canterbury.
“I am confident the new plan will achieve this, thanks to the contribution of all the submitters, the Hearing Panel and a variety of other experts throughout the region.”
Over the last 20 years, pest management in Canterbury has focused mainly on managing legacy pests that affect production land, such as broom, gorse, rabbits, Bennett’s wallaby and nassella tussock.
“We committed significant resources to this approach,” Professor Skelton said. “It was recognised that some legacy pests may need a different application of control and funding, but not losing the gains we’ve made.”
Environment Canterbury therefore proposed to maintain efforts to prevent existing pests from proliferating, while also increasing our focus on stopping new pests entering the region and becoming established.
“This approach will help us become more resilient, with pests managed for both production land and biodiversity protection purposes,” Professor Skelton said.
The review also made sure our plan is aligned with neighbouring regions’ to help prevent new pests arriving here.
“This presents an opportunity for more proactive initiatives,” Professor Skelton said. “Environment Canterbury will have a leadership role, particularly in the early stages of pest infestation, with extra emphasis on advice, education and working with the community.”
Until the new plan becomes operative, pest management in Canterbury must continue to comply with the current plan.
The new plan is subject to an appeal period of 15 working days. Appeals can be filed by application to the Environment Court (submitters on the proposal only). Once any appeals have been resolved the new Canterbury Regional Pest Management Plan will be made operative.
Key Hearing Panel recommendations
A number of changes were applied to the proposed plan via the hearing process. Some of the main ones were:
- Wild Russell lupin has been included as a pest and there are now rules requiring its control. Russell lupin has rules regarding planting.
- Feral goats on Banks Peninsula have been included as a pest and there are rules regarding to their identification and constraint. The work undertaken by the Joint Goat Working Group (DOC, Christchurch City Council, Banks Peninsula Conservation Trust and Environment Canterbury) would be supported.
- An additional rule for wilding conifer control has been included to address the impact from planted conifers. This rule is to support the conifer control undertaken by the National Wilding Conifer Control Programme funded by MPI, DOC, LINZ, Environment Canterbury and landowners as well as other publicly funded control programmes.
- Changes were also applied to the nassella tussock and Chilean needle grass provisions.
Council accepted the recommendations of a Hearing Panel on the proposed Canterbury Regional Pest Management Plan.
What happens next?
Submitters on the proposed plan will have 15 days to decide whether they wish to make an application to the Environment Court. This period expires on 13 April 2018. The current Pest Management Plan remains effective until the new plan is made operative, likely in the middle of this year.
What process was followed to reach this point?
A comprehensive review of the current plan was undertaken in collaboration with a range of stakeholders. A discussion document was released in 2016 to help inform the formal consultation that followed. A Hearing Panel was appointed to make recommendations to Council on the proposed plan.
Who were the members of the Hearing Panel?
Environment Canterbury Councillors Tom Lambie, Cynthia Roberts and Iaean Cranwell, and John Simmons, an external biosecurity technical specialist.
What will happen with the worst pests for Canterbury? What has changed?
Through the development of the plan, local communities made it clear that the focus on legacy pests needed to remain. Pests like wallaby remain in the plan and there are still requirements on landowners to control them in the containment area in South Canterbury.
Requirements are still in place for nassella tussock and Chilean needle grass, with some refinement of the rules. There are new regulatory requirements for wilding conifers that align with and support the regional control programme, to make sure conifers don’t come back once they have been controlled.
You talk about recent serious incursions like velvetleaf and mycoplasma bovis. Why aren’t they included in the plan?
These are pests that are major threats nationally. Incursion response is therefore led by the Ministry for Primary Industries. In the case of mycoplasma bovis, Environment Canterbury has not been formally asked to provide assistance, but is party to the National Capability Network which when activated means we will provide staff and other resources.
MPI is now asking the community to keep an eye out for velvetleaf. This invasive pest was found in fodder beet seed imported from Europe in 2015.
In Canterbury, over 500 farms purchased one of the 6 contaminated seed lines. MPI is continuing to work with partner organisations, including Environment Canterbury, to manage velvetleaf.
What about Biosecurity 2025?
Council has taken a close interest in the development of this Direction Statement from central Government. We are confident that we are heading in the right direction to ensure alignment with the way the 5 strategic directions are developing.
They are about much more than plans, which we recognise. Canterbury will be a leader in implementing a biosecurity system that will stand us in good stead to meet future challenges.