We’re not about tigers and marijuana says Biosecurity Institute


30 June 2015

We're not about tigers and marijuana says Biosecurity Institute

July is Biosecurity Month and those who work in the sector reckon more should be taught about animal and plant pests in schools.

The call from the New Zealand Biosecurity Institute (NZBI) comes on the eve of the month dedicated to highlighting the biosecurity sector.

It follows the recent release of a survey of Auckland schoolchildren which found such a lack of knowledge about unwanted plants and pests, and the effects they could have on the environment, that many considered zoo animals and illicit drugs to be the country's biggest biosecurity threats.

The NZBI thinks it's time the Biosecurity Sector took a higher profile in the community as well as in schools.

The survey of 171 Year 9 students found that around a third could not name an unwanted animal. While some named possums and rats as pests, others listed zoo animals such as tigers, elephants and hippos.

A third could not name an unwanted plant in New Zealand. Those that did named marijuana.

NZBI member Rajesh Ram carried out the survey as part of his studies at the University of Auckland. He said he also found the students lacked knowledge on what effect an unwanted plant or pest could have on the environment.

NZBI President Rebecca Kemp said the students were predominately aged 13 and she would have hoped they had a bit more of an idea about pest plants and animals and the general concept of biosecurity.

Ms Kemp said every year, in the course of their jobs, NZBI members spend hundreds of hours controlling or managing the risks to the economy and the environment from the effects of unwanted 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," she said.

"We need everyone to play a part in protecting what's precious and unique about New Zealand."

The NZBI is the professional training and networking organisation for people involved in biosecurity. Its 450 members work for research organisations, educational institutions, regional councils and government departments.

All are involved in protecting NZ from invasive species.

Biosecurity month occurs every July in the run-up to the NZ Biosecurity Institute's Annual Conference.

photo 1

A group of school children study the pest plant gorse close-up.


NZ Biosecurity President Rebecca Kemp

photo3 NZBI

Year 9 students from Hobsonville Point Secondary School who are involved in the restoration of a site near their school. A nationally critically threatened plant on the site (Epilobium hirtigerum) is being smothered by pest plants. The students and teachers are working on several projects relating to the area, and on promoting biosecurity and biodiversity issues in their wider community.

For further comment please contact: Rebecca Kemp, President, New Zealand Biosecurity Institute:  021 222 9076

Media enquiries please contact: Chris Macann, Editor, Protect Magazine - The Magazine of the New Zealand Biosecurity Institute, phone 03 34 99 660  |  021 878 001

For more information about the New Zealand Biosecurity Institute please visit:



Biosecurity No1 Priority.

Ensuring a world-class biosecurity system has again been rated as the ''No1'' priority by New Zealand's primary industry leaders.They were surveyed as part of KPMG's annual Agribusiness Agenda, to gauge the priority they attached to a range of strategic issues facing the primary sector.

Improving the country's biosecurity framework topped the list for the fifth consecutive year, while delivery of rural broadband moved up four places to share the second ranking with the importance of food safety.

Concerns surrounding biosecurity weaknesses were similar to those of previous years and included the ''holes'' in border inspection protocols, unrestricted importation of high-risk products, such as palm kernel extract, and concerns about the practical implications of Government Industry Agreements.

The view was expressed it was ''more by luck than good management'' that New Zealand did not experience more incursions.

It was also noted the identification of the Queensland fruit fly, in Auckland, earlier this year, demonstrated protection systems were working as intended.

In his foreword to the agenda, Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy said biosecurity remained his ''No1 priority''.

This year's Budget included $27 million in new funding for biosecurity, which would mean more dogs, X-ray machines and resources.

In April, he announced the Biosecurity 2025 project which would update and replace the 2003 Biosecurity Strategy, which was the founding document of New Zealand's biosecurity system.

Raed more....


Articles for Protect?

Reminder - Calling for contributions to the July (Winter) edition of Protect Magazine.

I am now preparing the Winter issue of Protect due at the beginning of July, and am keen to hear from as many of you as possible.

I am particularly interested in hearing about any projects in July which could be used for promoting Biosecurity Month in the lead up to NETS2015.

Contributions can be news about projects, branch news, information about papers and conferences - all information regarding biosecurity you would like to share.

Project welcomes tips from members and profiles of new as well as senior members.

You are also welcome to send a photograph of yourself for inclusion with the article. Please attempt to send all photographs as stand-alone files (un-embedded) and with clear captions identifying everyone in the photo.

Managers and team leaders please encourage your staff to send articles about themselves and their activities.

All stories relating to biosecurity are welcome.

If you would like to send an article to Protect please send it to: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it by 5pm Friday June 19 or send a note advising that an article (perhaps a report on an upcoming event) is coming soon.

Please try to get your contributions in as early as possible.

Thank you all for your support of Protect Magazine.

Best wishes as always

Chris Macann

Protect Magazine editor

03 34 99 660 | 021 878 001


Send Stoats back to Blighty?

They may be hated pests that love eating our cherished native birds, but pesky introduced stoats have just become a little more interesting to scientists overseas.

Just-published DNA comparisons have revealed that the stoats lurking in our wilderness include several genetic types that have long been lost from populations in their native Britain, prompting scientists to ask whether this diversity may even be worth bringing back home to Blighty.

Our stoats are descendants of those imported in the late 1800s to control rabbit numbers, which reached plague proportions after their introduction for food and sport.

Since then, stoats have been implicated in the extinction of bush wrens, laughing owls and the native thrush, and have been a major cause in the decline of kiwi, kokako, takahe, kaka and kakapo.

The Department of Conservation recently declared them "public enemy number one" for birds and the Government has poured millions of dollars into 1080 poison drops and research to control them.

However, new New Zealand-led research published in the journal Molecular Ecology has found that when the stoat population in Britain crashed, their expat relatives in this country conserved a reservoir of genetic diversity.

"History has demonstrated that even well-intentioned introductions of species to non-native habitats are almost always a bad idea," said Professor Robbie McDonald, of the University of Exeter.

"That said, as a result of a series of misguided introductions, we have accidentally created an 'invasive ark' for genetic diversity in New Zealand.

"It would be a fascinating long-term experiment to return native genotypes back to Britain from New Zealand and see whether it re-established among its ancestors."

Fellow author Dr Andrew Veale, formerly at the University of Auckland, said that while invasive, non-native species were a global cause of biodiversity loss, "our results show that sometimes these introduced populations may paradoxically conserve diversity lost from their native range - and potentially this diversity may be worth protecting".

Auckland University co-author Professor Mick Clout said the discovery that they had a higher genetic diversity here than back in their homeland was "intriguing". But that did not mean New Zealand stoats had any value or were worth protecting.

"If the Brits wanted to have them, then fine, but we are not going to compromise our control because of genetic diversity."

- NZ Herald


Pest wasps are costing New Zealand's economy $130 million a year.

Pest wasps are costing New Zealand's economy $130 million a year, a new study says.

The impact of the introduced pests included wasp-related traffic incidents, costing $1.4 million a year, and more than $1 million in health costs from wasp stings.

But the greatest impact was on farming, beekeeping, horticulture and forestry, the study said.

More information......


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