Forest and Bird and Bay of Plenty Regional Council have agreed to include kauri dieback disease in the Exclusion Programme of the Bay of Plenty Regional Pest Management Plan.

Kauri dieback disease is a pathogen (Phytophthora agathidicida) that kills native kauri trees by starving them of nutrients and water. It is difficult to manage because it is easily spread and even a small amount of soil on the bottom of someone’s shoes can spread it to new trees.

In 2020, the Regional Council released its decisions on its Pest Management Plan for 2020-2030, which Forest and Bird appealed to the Environment Court. Forest and Bird sought a series of changes to the Pest Management Plan, including around kauri dieback disease.

Following discussions and meetings between experts, the Regional Council and Forest and Bird reached an agreement on how to change the Pest Management Plan, which has been upheld in a recent decision of the Environment Court (Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society of New Zealand v Bay of Plenty Regional Council [2021] NZEnvC 147).

A series of changes were agreed, including that kauri dieback disease would be moved from the list of Advisory Pests to the Exclusion Programme of the Pest Management Plan, where it would join other pests like alligator weed, koi carp and perch.

Pests included in the Exclusion Programme are subject to rules which aim to prevent their establishment in the Bay of Plenty (or parts of the Bay of Plenty), whereas Advisory Pests are not subject to any rules in the Pest Management Plan.

However, managing kauri dieback disease goes beyond the Bay of Plenty and work on developing a National Pest Management Plan for kauri dieback disease began several years ago.

The Government included $28 million in its 2021 budget to develop the National Pest Management Plan and Biosecurity Minister Damien O’Connor said that “rolling out a National Pest Management Plan is the strongest form of protection available under the Biosecurity Act 1993 to combat kauri dieback disease.”

Despite this, a National Pest Management Plan is yet to be implemented.

More information about the Bay of Plenty Regional Pest Management Plan can be found at: Regional Pest Management Plan | Bay of Plenty Regional Council | Toi Moana (boprc.govt.nz).

Megan is a solicitor working in Holland Beckett Law's Environment and Resource Management team with Vanessa Hamm.