New Zealand foresters have called on their government to speed up the development and implementation of a biosecurity strategy following the discovery of an Asian gypsy moth near Hamilton.

The moth ranks as the top threat on the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry’s pest list because of its appetite and flight range. It feeds on oak, willow and birch, as well as pine trees and poplars.

The Forest Owners’ Association believes the species could cost the industry up to NZ$1m a day if it gains a foothold in the country. A report in 2000 by the New Zealand adviser to Japan Quarantine Inspections estimated the NZ$3bn a year industry could be knocked by NZ$300m annually, with the US and other countries banning all forestry exports.