Consultation on Waikato Regional Council's proposed rulebook for pest management and the supporting Biosecurity Strategic Plan will be held in April.
After robust discussion about various pests in the region, the council this week approved the proposed Regional Pest Management Plan (RPMP) for public consultation in April, with the plan to eventually replace the current Regional Pest Management Plan 2014-2024.
The current RPMP was reviewed due to substantial changes to the Biosecurity Act 1993 (the Act) in 2012 and because it's not consistent with some of the provisions of the national policy direction for pest management implemented in 2015.
The accompanying proposed Biosecurity Strategic Plan, which is new, sets out the council's blueprint for ensuring a collaborative, cohesive and comprehensive biosecurity system is operated within the Waikato region over the next 10 years.
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In developing the proposed RPMP, input was sought by key stakeholders such as other regional councils, all territorial authorities in the Waikato region, the Ministry for Primary Industries, those working in the primary industries sector, the Department of Conservation and iwi.
There has been an overall reduction in the total number of programmes in the RPMP, particularly where pests are the responsibility of another agency, such as rainbow lorikeets, or where rules for widespread pests are ineffective or not needed.
The reduction in programmes is mainly due to changes in how pest programmes are described and categorised, according to national policy direction.
The change in definition of a site-led programme, for instance, means the council has had to either re-categorise or remove existing site-led programmes because they are no longer achievable within planned funding for pest management.
The invasion curve, a tool for understanding invasive species management, was used to ensure that available resources are mostly targeted at low-incidence/high-impact pests to maximise biosecurity outcomes.
Waikato Regional Council chairman Russ Rimmington said it was financially impossible to include every pest in the proposed RPMP, particularly where they had become so widespread, but the Biosecurity Strategic Plan supported helping landowners and community groups who may wish to eradicate certain species. Funding for such projects was also available through the Natural Heritage Partnership Programme.
"We all have a role to play in preventing pests and diseases from getting in the country and spreading around, and that takes more than regulatory intervention. The Biosecurity Strategic Plan recognises this. It's about caring for our place and empowering our people – not just throwing the rulebook at them."