INDEPENDENT NEWS

Foresters appalled by apple moth delays

Published: Mon 3 Dec 2001 02:10 PM
NZ FOREST OWNERS ASSOCIATION (Inc)
NZ FARM FORESTRY ASSOCIATION (Inc)
6.45 pm, 2 December 2001
MEDIA RELEASE
Daily and Primary Industry Media
Immediate
Foresters appalled by apple moth delays
500 words
If a factory caught fire in West Auckland would the Waitakere City Council demand resource consents before the Fire Service put out the blaze?
If ferrets were released on Little Barrier Island, would the government wait two years before putting in an effective eradication programme?
These questions have been posed by Forest Owners Association executive director Rob McLagan, who says he is appalled by government delays in controlling painted apple moth in West Auckland.
“The painted apple moth is like a factory fire, or the release of predators into a native bird reserve – there is an immediate and severe risk to the environment. Urgent action is essential,” he said.
It’s a view shared by Denis Hocking, bio-security spokesperson for the 3000 member Farm Forestry Association.
“We would have expected local and central government to work together on this or – if central government was showing a lack of resolve – for the Waitakere City Council to be crying out for action,” Mr Hocking said.
“Instead we are witnessing bureaucratic infighting and inordinate delays.
“If the council and some of its residents are genuinely concerned about spraying, they should be aware that every day spraying is delayed means a greater area of their city will have to be treated.
“It is extremely important we act urgently.”
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Mr Hocking said no-one knew for certain what impact the moth would have on the NZ environment, but going by the experience in Australia it was likely to cause severe damage to shrubs and trees in gardens and parks, as well as native and exotic forests, starting perhaps with the Waitakere Ranges.
“The painted apple moth has been present in Auckland for more then two years. Extermination efforts to date have not been adequate,” Mr Hocking said.
“More serious attempts to eliminate the species by spraying with the widely accepted bio-control agent BTk are being stymied by the bureaucracy. This agent was used in east Auckland five years ago to successfully eradicate gypsy moth, without any identifiable effect on human health despite thorough monitoring.
“Exactly who is responsible for this latest delay - MAF for not seeking resource consents for low flying helicopters, the Bio-security Act for not being clear on requirements and powers, or Waitakere City for being obstructive - is of minor concern.
“Effective bio-security is essential for New Zealand's environmental and economic health. Our lifestyles and standard of living depend on keeping destructive pests and diseases at bay.
“This applies from Queen Street in Auckland to Dee Street in Invercargill.
“The current bio-security strategy review will be a waste of money and effort if it cannot free up these bureaucratic logjams and instill a common sense of purpose and commitment among government agencies and the wider community.
“We need to be able to move quickly while there is still a chance of eradicating pests safely and relatively cheaply.”
[ends]
Media contact:
Rob McLagan, Tel 04-473 4769 (business), 04-237 9022 (home)

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