Review of Regional Council’s biosecurity programmes

Hawke’s Bay Regional Council is working to improve the delivery of its biosecurity programmes following an independent review.

Hawke’s Bay Regional Council is working to improve the delivery of its biosecurity programmes following an independent review.

The Regional Council commissioned the review of its biosecurity programmes to get a measure of how each is performing says Integrated Catchment Management group manager Iain Maxwell.

“The independent review looked at the efficiency and effectiveness of the biosecurity functions performed by the Regional Council, including resources, budgets, planning, activities, deliverables, and more. It also compared the programmes with other councils that carry out similar functions,” says Mr Maxwell.

“We’ve discovered that our biosecurity programmes are smaller in scale than similar councils, with fewer resources, staff and operating budgets than what we actually need. This means that our programmes aren’t currently operating as effectively as they could be – particularly when it comes to controlling possums, Chilean needle grass, and rabbits. The review also identified the need for us to be spending more on biodiversity to support key habitats and species,” adds Mr Maxwell.

Hawke’s Bay is on the back foot compared to other regional councils with similar operating budgets. The average spend on biosecurity for four comparative councils is 10.7%, but Hawke’s Bay’s spend was found to be 6.3%.

“We’ve gone right through the report and are already putting improvements in place. Some of these changes are going to be big and will need to go through our Long Term Plan budgeting and consultation process. Others are smaller and we can get on with it now, such as recruiting for our summer Chilean Needle Grass programme.”

“Biosecurity is about protecting our environment from things we don’t want – like possums and Chilean needle grass. It’s so important that we have our teams and our biosecurity response at the right size so we can get this critical part of our work right to improve biodiversity outcomes, but also for our farmers and horticulturalists,” says Mr Maxwell.

Regional Councillor Craig Foss says the report has arrived just in time as this is an urgent issue and shows how much work the Council has to do.

“This is a very serious report that tells me we as a council need to up our game on biosecurity, especially possum control. It highlights a disconnect between those making the decisions and people on the ground trying to deliver what we’re asking for. I’ve got personal experience and heard stories from the community about how our predator control is working, and these anecdotes are backed up in the report.”

“I’m glad the report has come to the table and look forward to working with the team to build up our resources and capability,” adds Councillor Foss.

This is part of a standard review of Regional Council work programmes which happens every six years.