Pest Management Plan
July 10, 2023

Pest Management Plan

Discover the importance of pest management in New Zealand and learn how pest management plans to safeguard its unique environment.

New Zealand is iconic for its unique biodiversity. Effective pest management plays an essential role in maintaining our delicate ecosystem. As an island, New Zealand has diverse and rare flora and fauna, with many native species only found in New Zealand. However, the unfortunate introduction of invasive pests has caused devastating effects on our beautiful wildlife. 

New Zealand is faced with a detrimental pest problem with over 15,000 unwanted introduced species that cause damage and threaten our country’s natural heritage. In fact, according to DOC, pests have been estimated to cost billions of dollars in pest control costs and kill around 25 million native birds each year. Pests are responsible for the mass destruction of native vegetation, competition for resources with indigenous species and predation on native birds. The results have seen extinctions and endangerment. 

Pest management is used to combat the ongoing pest problem, with pest management plans being implemented throughout the country. These plans are designed to minimise the dire impact of pests through monitoring, control and prevention. By adhering to the implemented pest management plans, we can contribute to the preservation of New Zealand’s biodiversity. Whether it's implementing pest control measures on private land, supporting local conservation initiatives, or actively participating in pest eradication programs, everyone has a role to play in protecting the country's ecosystems and ensuring a sustainable future.

Understanding Pest Management Plans

A pest management plan can be defined as a comprehensive document that outlines specific objectives, approaches, and procedures for managing pest populations within a given area. To be successful, the pest management plan must consider the specific pests and the challenges they present, as well as the conservation goals of the region. Key components of an effective management plan are as follows:

Pest identification and assessment: identification and assessing the specific pest is essential prior to developing a plan. This process involves understanding their biology, behaviour and impact. 

Goal setting: Clear goals and objectives should be set to provide a sense of direction and purpose. Such goals can include reducing the pest population, protecting vulnerable species, and restoring native habitats.

Prevention strategies: The first line of defence against pests is usually prevention. This involves preventing the introduction and spread of invasive species, which may involve implementing biosecurity measures at borders and public awareness.

Monitoring and surveillance: it is important to be able to assess changes in pest populations, and this is best done through monitoring. 

Control measures: Pest management plans outline various control measures to reduce pest populations. These measures can include physical methods (such as trapping or fencing), chemical treatments (using approved pesticides), biological control (introducing natural predators or parasites), or cultural practices (modifying habitat or land management practices).

Integrated Pest Management Approaches: This method combines multiple control strategies to reduce the reliance on a single method and thus increases the effectiveness of pest management.
Review and Adapt: Plans should be dynamic and require regular assessment. New information will become available as the pest population changes, and the plan may need to be modified according to ensure goals are being met effectively. 

Creating a Pest Management Plan: A Step-by-Step Guide

A successful pest management plan involves adopting a systematic approach that considers the specific pests and the specific goals. Here’s a general guide:

  1. Research and identify common pests in New Zealand. The most common and harmful pests in New Zealand include possums, rats, stoats, wasps and ferrets. Here’s a comprehensive animal pests and threats list with relevant information. 
  2. Conduct a site assessment to evaluate the pest risk. Take note of the native species' vulnerability and ensure your goals are measurable and achievable. 
  3. Develop strategies for prevention, monitoring and control. Prevention strategies may include measures such as implementing biosecurity protocols, promoting public education and awareness, and restricting the movement of potential pest vectors. Monitoring strategies involve regular surveillance to detect changes in pest populations and their impacts. Control strategies encompass various approaches, including physical, chemical, biological, and cultural methods, tailored to the specific pest species and the ecological context.
  4. Incorporate environmentally friendly and sustainable pest management practices. Try to minimise the reliance on chemical pesticides by utilising the integrated pest management approach. This will hopefully allow you to minimise harm to non-target species and reduce environmental impacts. 
  5. Review regularly. Continuing to adapt the plan ensures that it remains effective in achieving its goals. Information on scientific advancements, new techniques and changes in pest status is crucial to pest management plans. Also, be sure to engage with stakeholders to gather feedback.  

Pest Management Plan Examples

New Zealand has implemented numerous pest management plans in the past with significant successful results. Here are some examples: 

Predator Free 2050:

The Predator Free 2050 initiative is a national project that aims to eradicate pests such as rats, stoats and possums by the year 2050. The initiative employs a combination of techniques such as trapping, baiting, self-resetting traps and other innovative technology in an attempt to achieve its ambitious goal. The initiative has high involvement between the government, local communities, landowners and businesses that foster shared responsibility. The involvement of various stakeholders contributes to its high chance of success.

Cape to City Project:

The Cape to City Project is a successful pest management plan in the Hawke’s Bay region. The plan focuses on both controlling pests and restoring the native biodiversity in the Cape Kidnappers and Poutiri Ao ō Tāne regions. Once again, the plan uses multiple techniques such as trapping, aerial baiting, and biological control using self-disseminating traps. The plan has seen notable improvements in its native bird and vegetation recovery. Its success can be attributed to the solid involvement and collaboration between communities, landowners, scientists and local authorities. 

Use of 1080:

Sodium fluoroacetate, commonly known as 1080, is a widely used toxin in New Zealand's pest management efforts. It is primarily used to control introduced pests such as rats, possums, and stoats. The use of 1080 is carefully regulated and monitored to ensure its effectiveness and minimise non-target impacts. While controversial, 1080 has proven to be a valuable tool in pest control, contributing to the recovery of native bird populations and the protection of fragile ecosystems.

Battle for Our Birds:

The Battle for Our Birds program was launched in 2016 and led by the New Zealand Department of Conservation (DOC) to protect native wildlife from the harmful impacts of pest populations, particularly during years of high seed mast events. The program involves aerially spreading 1080 baits across large areas to target pest species like rats, stoats, and possums. By strategically targeting areas with high conservation value, the program aims to prevent predator irruptions and safeguard vulnerable populations of native birds, including the endangered kiwi and kākāpō. The Battle for Our Birds program highlights the importance of proactive and targeted pest management strategies in critical conservation areas.

Whangārei Kiwi Sanctuary:

The Whangārei Kiwi Sanctuary in Northland was launched in 2000 with an emphasis on protecting Kiwi populations and their habitats. The plan involves intensive predator control measures, including trapping, baiting, and regular monitoring. By effectively managing pests such as stoats, ferrets, and feral cats, the sanctuary has experienced significant growth in kiwi populations. This success highlights the importance of dedicated predator control in specific areas to protect vulnerable native species.

These pest management examples show the importance of collaboration between stakeholders in pest control efforts. Government authorities, communities, landowners, businesses and conservation organisations like DOC must work together to support pest management plans and their success. Effective communication, sharing of resources and active participation are key to achieving positive outcomes. Positive outcomes can be observed through increased bird populations, improved vegetation health, and reduced pest populations. By learning from these successful pest management examples, New Zealand can continue to make positive strides in pest control and native conservation.

National Pest Management Plan

The National Policy Direction for Pest Management, also known as the National Direction, provides guidance and consistent regulation to regional councils for pest management across New Zealand. The National Direction establishes the requirements for developing pest management plans and programs under the Biosecurity Act 1993. The National Direction was developed in response to the inconsistencies in pest management plans that resulted in heightened costs and inefficiencies. Having a systematic approach improves pest outcomes and promotes efficiency. The key component of the National Direction are as follows:

  • Setting Objectives: The National Direction outlines the objectives and outcomes that pest management plans and programs should strive to achieve. These objectives help establish a clear direction for pest management activities.
  • Program Description: This section provides a framework for describing the specific pest management programs and activities that will be implemented. It helps in identifying the targeted pests, defining management strategies, and outlining the roles and responsibilities of the stakeholders involved.
  • Analysing Benefits and Costs: The National Direction emphasises the need to assess the benefits and costs associated with pest management activities. This analysis helps in evaluating the effectiveness of proposed programs and determining the allocation of resources.
  • Proposed Allocation of Costs: The National Direction requires a clear understanding of the costs involved in implementing pest management plans. It ensures that costs are appropriately allocated among stakeholders and provides a basis for determining contributions and funding mechanisms.
  • Good Neighbour Rules: The National Direction recognises the importance of managing pests that spill across regional boundaries. It requires the development of "good neighbour rules" in regional pest management plans to address these cross-boundary issues effectively.
  • Timing of an Inconsistency Determination: This section specifies the process and timeline for resolving any inconsistencies between regional pest management plans and the National Direction. It ensures that plans are aligned and consistent both nationally and regionally.

Regional Pest Management Plan

Regional pest management plans address relevant pest challenges according to different areas in New Zealand. Their purpose is to address the unique challenges each region faces so that councils can develop a tailored plan that will effectively protect the local environment. 

New Zealand is home to various environments and, therefore, variations in pest challenges. Factors such as climate, habitat type all contribute to differences in types and the number of pests found in each region. Regional pest management plans recognise these variations and allow councils to form unique pest control strategies to address the specific needs and priorities of their region. In doing so, the plans can better allocate resources, focus efforts, and engage in local communities. 

Specific Regional Plans and Their Tailored Approaches:

  • Canterbury Regional Pest Management Plan: The Canterbury Regional Pest Management Plan addresses a range of pests, including rabbits, possums, and stoats. The plan utilises a combination of control methods such as trapping, baiting, and shooting to manage these pests. It also emphasises collaboration with landowners, community groups, and agencies to achieve effective pest control outcomes.
  • Waikato Regional Pest Management Plan: The Waikato Regional Pest Management Plan focuses on addressing pests such as rats, feral cats, and wilding pines. The plan employs a mix of pest control techniques, including aerial baiting, trapping, and the use of 1080, where appropriate. It recognises the importance of engaging landowners, iwi (Māori tribes), and community organisations to ensure successful pest management across the region.

Showcasing Successful Case Studies of Regional Pest Management Initiatives:

  • Predator Free Wellington: This initiative is a collaborative effort between local councils, community groups, and government authorities. The initiative aims to eradicate rats, possums, and mustelids from the Wellington region, in order to create a predator-free capital city. The pest management plan involves intensive trapping, baiting, and monitoring effort. Fortunately, the initiative has seen significant reductions in predator populations, which has led to the recovery of native bird populations and the restoration of ecosystem balance.
  • Project Island Song - Bay of Islands: This project is a pest-free wildlife sanctuary covering the seven islands in the eastern Bay of Islands. The project works to restore and protect the natural ecosystems and heritage of the Bay of Islands. The project combined extensive trapping, baiting, and monitoring programs, along with community engagement and education. As a result of these efforts, the project has successfully eradicated pests and maintained this status for 14 years! They have planted 40,000 trees and managed to reintroduce eight native species. 

These case studies highlight the effectiveness of localised approaches in pest management. By tailoring strategies to the specific pest challenges faced by each region and fostering collaboration among stakeholders, regional pest management plans can achieve significant positive outcomes for the environment, biodiversity, and local communities.

Pest Management Plan Templates

Here are some awesome plan templates to get you started on your pest management journey or give you some ideas to create your own!


Pest management is absolutely essential on an island like New Zealand with such beautiful and unique native species. Effectively pest management is key in mitigating the detrimental effects of pests. Customised pest management plans must be implemented in specific regions due to variations in climate and habitats to enable us to address the unique challenges posed by pests in different areas. National pest management plans can provide guidance to ensure a cohesive pest management approach across the country. Collaboration is essential in successful pest management. Local communities, conservation organisations, businesses and authorities must engage and share knowledge to amplify efforts and work together towards a pest-free future. Pest management is an ongoing process that requires regular review and adaptation. Together, we can make a significant impact and protect the natural treasures of this beautiful country.