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Biosecurity in the outdoors

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Biosecurity is the protection against pests and diseases. One of the great things about getting into the outdoors is experiencing the New Zealand landscape and its wildlife is. We can all play a part in protecting our natural environment from pests and diseases.

Animal and plant pests

Animal and plant pests are a threat to New Zealand’s biodiversity. Most of these pest plants and animals were brought to Aotearoa by people.

Introduced predators are a threat to New Zealand’s biodiversity. Image: LEARNZ.

What do animal pests do?

Animals such as possums, rats, feral cats, and stoats compete with our native birdlife for food and habitat. They eat the eggs and young and attack the adults. They have also reduced numbers of species like reptiles and invertebrates. These pest animals are often called introduced predators.

What’s the problem with pest plants?

Pest plants, often called weeds, threaten the long-term survival of some native animals by:

  • changing or destroying their habitat
  • reducing their food or breeding sites
  • influencing the way native and introduced animals behave.

Weeds threaten our natural areas. They displace native vegetation and change ecosystems.

Weeds like this African club moss threaten our natural areas. Image: LEARNZ.

Kauri dieback

Kauri dieback is a disease that can kill kauri trees of all ages. Researchers are still working on a cure. Kauri dieback can be spread by dirty footwear, animals, equipment, and vehicles.

Some walking tracks in Aotearoa go through areas where kauri grow. To help stop the spread of kauri dieback, it is important to always:

  • use a wash station as instructed if available
  • clean your shoes, tyres, and equipment to remove soil before and after forest visits
  • stay on the track, and off kauri roots.

Remember to clean your gear to help stop the spread of kauri dieback. Image: LEARNZ.

What can we do?

Getting involved in pest control and restoration is a great way to improve walking tracks and other natural areas near your place.

Controlling animal pests

Animal pests are found in both urban and rural areas. You could monitor and trap these predators on your own property. Schools can also help by working with local councils to control predators in the school grounds. Schools can also encourage the community to get involved.

  Getting involved in pest control is a great way to help New Zealand’s threatened species. Image: LEARNZ.

Weeding out weeds

A good place to start is to find out what weeds are in your area. You can then start to look at replacing these problem plants.

Talk to your friends, family, neighbours, and classmates about the work you are doing in your own backyard. Encourage them to do the same.

Join community groups who are getting rid of weeds in your local area. Any help you can give will make a big difference.

What are the weeds in your area? Image: weedbusters .org

Native plant restoration

There are many groups around Aotearoa carrying out restoration planting. You could join a community group restoring areas such as:

  • bare land
  • bush blocks
  • wetlands
  • dunes
  • stream and riverside areas.

Restoring areas with native plants:

  • improves biodiversity
  • provides places for native birds and insects to flourish and move between
  • helps protect soil and prevent erosion
  • provides a carbon sink to remove greenhouse gases from our atmosphere
  • improves water quality by filtering runoff and stabilising soil
  • improves the look and natural character of our landscape
  • provides areas for recreation and enjoyment.

Helping to bring back native plants is good for the environment and a great way to enjoy the outdoors with other people. Image: LEARNZ.

Try the Biosecurity in the outdoors quiz.

Discover even more!

kauri dieback

links for monitoring and trapping animal pests

starting points for how to weed out weeds

useful links for getting a restoration project started

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