Compliance with environmental legislation
Many aspects of our research work are subject to legislative control. We manage and monitor our performance in this area via our Environmental Management System (EMS), which is subject to an annual external audit as part of our ISO14001 certification. By working closely with central government departments and applying the principle of continual improvement we endeavour to exceed basic compliance requirements and conform to best practice standards.
During 2010/11, we had one case of non–compliance where our Allan Herbarium was found to be moving specimens out of containment (for export) without MAF approval in May 2011. During 2012/13, we had no material instances of non-compliance.
Conservation Act 1987
Landcare Research operates a number of field bases on land administered by the Department of Conservation (DOC), which may be subject to Conservation Management Strategies or Plans. In addition, we must seek authority from DOC to carry out research activities, such as collecting plants, invertebrates and soil samples, on the conservation estate.
We have negotiated a Global Research Concession Agreement with DOC to cover our compliance with DOC management plans where routine field activities are conducted on the DOC estate. Special authority is still required for some activities and in some, particularly sensitive, conservation environments.
Wild Animal Control Act 1977
Wild animals are those introduced mammal species deemed to be a threat to the environment. These include feral cats, deer, possums, pigs and goats. Under this legislation it is illegal to release wild animals. Some of our projects involve capture and release of possums and occasionally other species—for these activities, we require permission from DOC.
Biosecurity Act 1993, Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act 1996
These acts covers importation of organic material, live organisms, biological specimens and other things that could cause environmental or human harm in New Zealand (“risk goods”). Import permits for risk goods have specific conditions and restrictions attached including carrying out research involving them in approved transitional (quarantine) or containment facilities. For example, soil imported from Antarctica for physical or chemical testing, comes under this Act.
Landcare Research runs eleven containment or transitional facilities that must comply with one or more Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) Standards. All facilities are regularly audited by MAF Biosecurity Officers.
We use new organisms and techniques involving genetic modification in our research to improve and develop new pest control methods, and to better understand both native and non–native species.
Our researchers wishing to work with any “new organism”, either a GMO or organism new to New Zealand, must first seek Environmental Risk Management Authority (ERMA) approval and maintain it in containment.
Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act (HSNO) 1996 – Hazardous Substances
Control of the risks associated with our use of hazardous substances is either via the ERMA–approved HSNO Code of Practice for CRI and University Exempt Laboratories or the wider HSNO regulations where the substances are used outside our “exempt” facilities.
Animal Welfare Act 1999
Our Sustainability Policy iterates our commitment to maintaining a high regard for animal welfare in all our research. Some of our research requires the use of animals, particularly ecological studies of native and introduced species, understanding the spread of tuberculosis, and developing better pest control methods. Prior approval for any animal manipulation must be obtained from our Animal Ethics Committee. MAF’s National Animal Ethics Advisory Committee maintains oversight of our Animal Ethics Committee functions.
Field studies involving routine trapping of pests do not require AEC approval but as part of our ongoing efforts to reduce the number of non–target species caught during fieldwork, we monitor the numbers of animals captured.
Resource management Act 1991
Both our on–site and field activities are also subject to provisions of the Resource Management Act, which occasionally requires consultation with local authorities and communities through the RMA consent process. Landcare Research must ensure that appropriate resource consents are in place for properties owned or used by us. We are not a heavy polluting industry, and are fully committed to caring for the environment at all our sites.
Agricultural Compounds and Veterinary Medicines Act (ACVM) 1997 (in force from 2001)
We follow an Institutional Operating Plan that describes the policies and procedures to minimise risks from using veterinary medicines (VMs). Researchers must complete an Institutional Drug Administration Order (IDAO), detailing any intended VM use and submit it for Animal Ethics Committee approval (to ensure that the VM usage is ethically justified). The IDAO is also sent to a consultant vet for approval as an appropriate treatment, and is returned with a prescription if new stocks are required.
VMs are kept under secure storage at five of our sites, and the Controlled Drugs Register is monitored by the Chair of the AEC. The system is audited each January by our consultant vet, who then reports to our Senior Managers.