Locust swarms, invasive ants, tick borne livestock diseases and rampant aquatic weed growth are just some of the potential impacts on our agricultural and horticultural industries that the Government must protect against at the Paris climate talks next week, the Green Party said today.
The comments come on the back of a report soon-to-be released by the Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) on the effects of climate change on current and potential pests and diseases.
“The MPI report is a disturbing read. It shows the major risks to our primary sector and our native bush from new invasive pest species, and ‘sleeper’ plant and animal pests as temperatures warm,” Green Party primary industries spokesperson Eugenie Sage said.
“The National Government may think the impacts of climate change are still ‘speculative’. We have had two reports in the space of a week showing the real risks to New Zealand coastal communities, homes, farms, and our native species and the need for action.
“The MPI report details ‘sleeper’ plant and animals species that are already present in New Zealand and currently innocuous, but whose populations and extent may increase with warming temperatures to become significant pests.
“Migratory locusts already occur in New Zealand but current temperatures are not high enough to trigger the swarming behaviour that would make them a pest, but a temperature increase could change this.
“Current temperatures and winter frosts also limit the establishment and southern spread of other species. Alligator weed occurs in Northland and Auckland, and is toxic to livestock. Warming temperatures mean it could become more invasive on land and in the water, and spread south with its floating mats blocking waterways.
“The report predicts that accelerated trade winds and bush fire weather patterns are likely to see more potential pests blown in from Australia.
“When 65 per cent of our exports are from agriculture, horticulture and forestry, an unstable climate that increases the biosecurity risks for New Zealand farmers is a timely reminder that the number one priority at the Paris climate talks next week is to put an end to climate pollution, rather than avoiding action.
“The report also warns of the diseases that could affect our native species, including kauri, hebe and pohutukawa, and the risk of mosquito-borne illnesses such as West Nile virus and bovine ephemeral fever becoming more widespread, affecting livestock and also human health.
“New Zealand’s current targets to reduce climate pollution have been described by climate experts as “inadequate.” If every other country copied the National Government’s lack of ambition, a future of increased and more widespread plant and animal pests and diseases and sea level rise would be a near certainty,” said Ms Sage.
Copies of the report are available by emailing [email protected].