The New Zealand Biosecurity Institute has elected Waikato pest management officer Darion Embling as its new president. Mr Embling succeeds Auckland pest plant officer Rebecca Kemp who stepped down from the role in July. Ms Kemp will remain an executive member of the Institute.
Ms Kemp said Mr Embling's experience of pest plant management and in engaging communities on the wider issue of invasive species were key qualities which secured him the presidency.
Mr Embling said the past few months have been significant for the Institute.
"In July the government announced its initiative to make New Zealand predator free by 2050, and released its draft guiding document for biosecurity until 2025.
"As well, the unwanted establishment of the invasive pest plant velvet leaf in pockets across the country tested biosecurity workers nation-wide when they came together to manage the plant's further spread.
Mr Embling said every year Institute members spend hundreds of hours controlling or managing the risks to the economy and the environment of the effects of introduced pests.
"This is work which costs the country hundreds of millions of dollars each year through control, research and border control budgets. This money is coming out of all New Zealanders' pockets," he said.
The NZ Biosecurity Institute is the professional training and networking organisation for people involved in all aspects of biosecurity including pest animal and plant management, and border control. Its members work for research organisations, educational institutions, regional councils and government departments.
All are involved in protecting NZ from invasive species.