Weekly column by Kāpiti's Greater Wellington Regional Council representative Penny Gaylor.

This week is "20-20 Vigilance" Biosecurity Week, running from July 27-31, with the focus on understanding the risks posed by pest plants and animals and the importance of remaining vigilant in the face of potential biosecurity breaches that could compromise key New Zealand interests.

As chairwoman of Greater Wellington Regional Council's Environment Committee, I want to remind everyone that as well as vigilance, persistence and close co-ordination with the broad range of agencies, voluntary groups and highly motivated people are central to the success of protecting our environment from pests.

Thanks to the commitment and hard work of volunteers and our community, we've come a long way.


However, it will take a truly unified regional effort to keep pest plants and animals at bay.

We stand shoulder to shoulder with the biosecurity sector in support of the New Zealand Biosecurity Institute's awareness raising week.

Every individual effort is a big help, as uncontrolled pest animals and plants will cause terrible damage to the environment, economic, social and cultural values of the Wellington region.

We cannot let that happen.

On the Kāpiti Coast we have 24 restoration groups who do an amazing job of restoring and enhancing our local natural environment.

The hundreds of volunteers doing the hard yards in those groups are all too familiar with the challenges and risks posed by the hardy and ruthless pest plants and animals.

Regrettably many of the plants and animals they seek to protect are not as hardy as the pest types.

Smothering, strangling, displacing, infecting, browsing, killing - there are many ways pest plants and animals can undermine our biodiversity and put our primary production at risk.


And while we are more and more familiar with the conversation around climate change, there is growing awareness of the negative impact climate change will have on our environment because of the potential for pests to spread in to new habitats.

Our approach to supporting Biosecurity Week will focus on a week-long social media campaign using techniques such as "spot the difference" to encourage students to identify potential pests, and to know who to dob them in to GWRC.

Last year GWRC renewed its Regional Pest Management Plan 2019-39 which identifies 17 pest plants and 12 pest animals for exclusion from the region, eradication or management, with a range of others being kept under watch for inclusion in the plan if necessary.