“Pest Problem Pretty Scary” says DoC

Speaking at the Environmental Defence Society conference in Ōtautahi/Christchurch on 11 June, Minister of Conservation Tama Potaka told of a dismal outlook for a stressed Department of Conservation due to cyclonic storms, e.g. Gabrielle  the challenge of combatting “invasive species” and government’s tightening of its financial belt. 

In a ministerial briefing last November, the department “confirmed that the current size and scale of DoC is unaffordable on current baselines”.  In response to government public service cutbacks, it’s shedding staff.

Speaking before Tama Potaka, DoC director-general Penny Nelson said planting pines on public land had to be compared to the cost of combatting wilding pines that would result. The department was assessing more than 1000 native terrestrial species relative to climate change.

She described the challenge of “pest” populations as “pretty scary”.

“There’ll be 50 percent more rats in some areas by 2090 under moderate climate change scenarios. There’ll be 40 percent more wasps nests lasting through the winter season, and the tools that we have at the moment, that we use in conservation, just aren’t cutting it.,” she was quoted as saying. Browsing animals – such as deer, goats and possums – were a problem. DoC monitoring showed goats and deer had spread.

“Their abundance has doubled between 2013 and 2021,” she said.

Wild deer “browsing” grass – hind and fawn.
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