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Spread of moth is a biosecurity emergency

Spread Of Painted Apple Moth Is A Biosecurity Emergency

December 3, 2001 - Waitakere

Spread of painted apple moth is a biosecurity emergency

Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society
Waitakere Ranges Protection Society

Forest and Bird and the Waitakere Ranges Protection Society are jointly calling on the Government to use emergency provisions under the Biosecurity Act to deal with the incursion of painted apple moth (PAM) in Auckland. The groups are critical of the long delay in responding to this incursion, and have written to the Minister of Biosecurity asking to meet with him at the earliest opportunity.

The painted apple moth is spreading at an alarming rate from where it was first found in Glendene and Mount Wellington. Recently moths have been trapped on Scenic Drive and Wirihana Roads, on the fringes of the Waitakere Ranges.

Forest and Bird and the Waitakere Ranges Protection Society are very concerned at this threat to the Ranges. "The Waitakere Ranges form the closest native forest area to metropolitan Auckland and have unique vegetation and animals, including 27 species of moths that have only been found in the Waitakere forest," says John Edgar, President of the Waitakere Ranges Protection Society. "MAF's lack of action has placed this treasure in jeopardy".

Both Societies have battled for years for increased protection of the Ranges, which were purchased as a Regional Park over fifty years ago. "The Waitakere Ranges are one of the crown jewels of the Auckland region, and must be protected from the painted apple moth", John Edgar says. His concern is shared by Forest and Bird Waitakere Branch Chair, Dr Peter Maddison. Dr Maddison first identified the painted apple moth in Glendene in 1999, and immediately alerted MAF. "Since then MAF has spent two and a half years monitoring the spread of the moth. MAF's response has been mismanaged from the start, and has allowed the painted apple moth to reach the edge of the Waitakere Ranges," Dr Maddison says.

Both Societies are appalled at the lack of concerted action by MAF, despite clear calls for action by the local community, the Waitakere City Council, Mayor Bob Harvey and Titirangi M.P. David Cunliffe. MAF's response to the painted apple moth is a complete contrast to 'Operation Evergreen', which successfully eradicated the white-spotted tussock moth from Auckland's eastern Suburbs.

"MAF is showing a disregard for the serious environmental impacts of painted apple moth, and the conservation value of the Waitakere Ranges," says John Edgar. "It is paramount that eradication measures start immediately. To be effective, the campaign must involve host weed removal, pheromone trapping and, where necessary, aerial and ground spraying ".

The Societies recognise there are health concerns from the community and believe that the campaign must provide for community notification and free medical checks for people that may be affected by the spray. "The most crucial aspect of the campaign has to be urgency in dealing with the situation before the moths spread any further," Dr. Maddison says.

For further information, contact:

John Edgar, President - Waitakere Ranges Protection Society Phone (09) 812 8555 Email jedgar@iconz.co.nz

Peter Maddison, Chair - Forest and Bird Waitakere Branch Phone (09) 818 6803 Email maddisonp@clear.net.nz

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