Inequality needs to be addressed: ES
Environment Southland wants biosecurity reforms to remove the inequality between private landowners and Crown land.
Under the Biosecurity Act, landowners are responsible for preventing the spread of pest plants through boundary management.
However, Crown land does not have to adhere to measures set out in the Regional Pest Management Strategy for Southland.
Environment Southland biosecurity manager Richard Bowman said the Biosecurity Law Reform Bill was going through the select committee process and he hoped proposed changes would provide a level playing field.
"The bone of contention is a sense of inequity between private landowners and the Crown," he said. "When private landowners ensure their boundaries are managed they may feel let down if Department of Conservation or Land Information New Zealand land that is not managed, then infringed on the landowners' property boundary."
However, any changes to the act could place an extra strain on Crown resources, Mr Bowman said. "The Crown may have to follow stricter practices and with a reluctance for the Crown to be subject to what it deems as unfair rules. If DOC or Linz had to remove pest plants from all their boundaries, it would take their entire budget."
A review of the Environment Southland pest management strategy was under way.
DOC Southland technical support officer (threats) Lynne Huggins said controlling DOC land for plant pests was a challenge.
"We work with property owners and regional councils but DOC has millions of kilometres of boundaries to maintain," she said.
Any new legislation must be mindful of the practical challenges DOC faced with its limited resources, Mrs Huggins said.
"Controlling every DOC boundary is something that realistically can never be achieved," she said. "It's more about working with agencies to continue the ongoing control of pests."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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