The Importance of Biosecurity
Biosecurity plays a crucial role in safeguarding the delicate ecosystems of New Zealand from the threats posed by exotic pests and diseases. While it is easy to focus on the benefits gained from effective biosecurity measures, it is equally important to consider what is at stake if these invasive organisms were to infiltrate the country. In this blog, we will explore the potential losses and consequences associated with the introduction of exotic pests and diseases, as well as emphasizing the significance of robust biosecurity protocols in preserving New Zealand's human health, economy, native flora and fauna, lifestyle, food production, and infrastructure.
Protecting Human Health: New Zealand is fortunate to be relatively free from insect-borne diseases such as malaria or dengue fever, thanks to the absence of vectors like exotic mosquitoes. By implementing stringent biosecurity measures, the country prevents these disease-carrying insects from gaining a foothold. Similarly, the risk of anthrax and other animal-borne diseases is mitigated by restricting certain animal products and imposing strict controls on live animal imports, such as dogs.
Preserving the Economy: The primary industry in New Zealand is a vital contributor to the nation's economy, generating significant revenue through exports. In the past year alone, primary industry imports earned approximately NZ$56 billion, accounting for about 80% of all exports. However, the introduction and establishment of exotic pests and diseases, such as Foot and Mouth Disease, can devastate agricultural and livestock sectors, resulting in severe economic losses. Effective biosecurity measures act as a protective shield, preventing these destructive organisms from compromising the country's economic stability.
Conserving Native Biodiversity: New Zealand's unique native plants and animals face a direct threat from introduced pests and diseases. Invasive species like possums pose a significant risk to native flora by consuming vegetation, while diseases like myrtle rust can decimate plant populations. These biological incursions not only disrupt delicate ecological balances but also jeopardize the survival of native species. By prioritizing biosecurity, New Zealand can preserve its diverse ecosystems and protect the rich biodiversity that makes the country so special.
Maintaining Lifestyle and Recreational Activities: The absence of certain pests and diseases allows New Zealanders to enjoy outdoor activities without significant concerns. Unlike golfers in Australia, who may avoid searching for balls in the rough during summer due to the presence of venomous snakes or insects, New Zealanders can engage in recreational pursuits without worrying about potential hazards.
Safeguarding Food Production: Biosecurity is crucial for ensuring the nation's food security. Allowing the entry of pests like fruit flies could have a devastating impact on home gardens and commercial orchards, hindering the ability to grow food locally. Overseas examples demonstrate how fruit fly infestations have forced stringent regulations and restrictions on produce, limiting agricultural productivity and increasing reliance on imported goods. By preventing the establishment of destructive pests, New Zealand can protect its ability to grow and supply food within its borders.
Preserving Infrastructure: The discovery of the freshwater gold clam in the Waikato River serves as a reminder that invasive species can impact infrastructure. The presence of such organisms may necessitate increased maintenance and monitoring of dams, raising the cost of power generation. New Zealand can steer clear of unnecessary financial burdens and uphold the integrity of it’s vital infrastructure when we proactively prevent the entry of invasive species.
We have an abundance of treasures to protect, and your invaluable efforts at Transitional Facilities across New Zealand form the vibrant heart of our biosecurity system. Your dedication and vigilance ensure that our precious land remains safeguarded, thriving and full of endless possibilities.