Rights: The University of Waikato Published 27 November 2007 Download

Val Orchard from ERMA explains how new organisms are sometimes used in New Zealand to control the levels of other organisms.

(Note: ERMA was disestablished in June 2011 and its functions were incorporated into the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA).)


Val Orchard (ERMA) An important area of activity for us is biocontrol – this is where we are looking at some animals to control something else. And because we've got so many pests in New Zealand, we are looking actively to see whether we can find some biocontrol for some of the weeds.

So we do look at importing organisms, usually insects that will chew the leaves, or chew the roots, or chew the bugs, or will eat the seeds of some of these plants. So bringing biocontrol agents in, we look at the risks and the benefits. Clearly a benefit is that they will chew the weeds, but what else will they chew? And that’s a good example of wanting to bring a new organism in for some real benefit.

On the biocontrol side, we have just approved some biocontrol agents that will chew up Californian thistle – I'm sure you will be quite pleased about that.