$300m to get rid of pests

East and Bays Courier - - OUT & ABOUT - AMANDA SAXTON

Auck­land Coun­cil is propos­ing spend­ing $307 mil­lion over the next 10 years to rein in the re­gion’s pests – more than three­fold its cur­rent $88m bud­get.

The bat­tle to curb kauri dieback and Dutch elm dis­ease was at the heart of the fund­ing in­crease, get­ting 10 times more than the $5m cur­rently al­lot­ted to it. Mean­while, $40m would go to­wards culling pos­sums.

The coun­cil’s en­vi­ron­ment and com­mu­nity com­mit­tee would vote to ap­prove the plan for pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion on Tues­day.

Its big­gest spend would be $154m on park­land pest man­age­ment.

Keep­ing the sta­tus quo would lead to ‘‘wide-spread canopy col­lapse’’ in Auck­land forests, the com­mit­tee’s agenda said.

The Waitakere and Hunua Ranges, Auck­land’s big­gest for­est tracts on the main­land, would be pri­ori­tised, with the coun­cil, trans­port cor­ri­dor op­er­a­tors, and pri­vate landown­ers co­or­di­nat­ing ef­forts to pro­tect the parks’ ecosys­tems.

The kauri dieback pro­gramme would work to­wards stop­ping the dis­ease reach­ing the Hunua Ranges and Hau­raki Gulf Is­lands, and slow­ing its spread else­where.

Great Bar­rier Is­land, Wai­heke Is­land, and Kawau Is­land, all within Auck­land’s Hau­raki Gulf, would get a more than $40m boost to man­age their re­spec­tive pest spreads.

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Pos­sum con­trol would get a five-fold boost in fund­ing if the plan goes ahead.

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