Taranaki threatened by 11 pest plants and possums

Tuesday 6 March

Taranaki landowners and occupiers are required to destroy 11 pest plants and possums, threatening Taranaki’s native flora and fauna, economy and legendary lifestyle.

Taranaki Regional Council Operations Director Stephen Hall says these pests remain one of the biggest threats to the region’s agriculture, biodiversity and economy, all of which are powered by our environment.

“There’s not many places in New Zealand where you can knock off work, return home to hear Kiwi calling at night, before waking to the sound of Tui. We risk losing this, unless we remove these pest plants and possums which threaten our native environment and Taranaki’s economy,” Mr Hall says.

The 11 pest plants which must be destroyed are: giant buttercup, giant gunnera, gorse, kahili ginger, nodding thistle, old man’s beard, plumeless thistle, variegated thistle, yellow ginger and yellow ragwort.

The rules form part of Taranaki’s Regional Pest Management Plan, which the Council adopted on Tuesday 20 February 2018. It will build on the continual efforts of landowners. “Many are already working hard caring for their environment, with a strong sense of environmental stewardship. This can be seen in the Council’s flagship Self-help Possum and Key Native Ecosystem programmes, which are enjoying so much success,” Mr Hall says. Since 1992, through the Possum Self-help Programme, 4,374 Taranaki properties covering 235,000 hectares, have maintained possum numbers at very low levels.

“Many in our community are already doing great work, removing pest plants and destroying possums, but it’s vital everyone is vigilant against these pests and possums. It doesn’t matter whether you live in urban or rural areas, they need to go. We need people to look after their own back yard,” Mr Hall says.

If landowners or occupiers fail to destroy any of the 11 plants or possums, found on their property, then they could be prosecuted by the TRC and or billed for the removal of the pest plants, under the 2018 Regional Pest Management Plan.

A new Good Neighbour rule, in the Pest Management Plan, also means landowners and occupiers must ensure pests and possums on their property don’t spread to their neighbours.

Five pest plants have also been identified that TRC will eradicate, if found in the region. The five pest plants are: climbing spindleberry, giant reed, Madeira (mignonette) vine, moth plant and Senegal tea. These plant species are not currently well established in Taranaki and the Council aims to keep it this way, paying for and carrying out any eradication of these pest plants, if discovered.
“TRC will act immediately to prevent the spread of these species in Taranaki. It’s a simple way we can support livelihoods, native habitats and improve lifestyles,” Mr Hall says.

All rules and the public’s responsibilities are set out in Taranaki’s Regional Pest Management Plan, which the Council adopted on Tuesday 20 February 2018. It replaces the former pest plant and animal plans. The public view the full pest management plan at the Council’s website:https://www.trc.govt.nz/council/plans-and-reports/strategy-policy-and-plans/regional-pest-management-plan/