Environmental legislation

Where proposed management of an invasive ant incursion is to be undertaken using insecticide, an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) or Environmental and Social Impact Assessments (ESIA) is required to weigh the possible human and environmental consequences of pesticide use against alternative management options and to ensure that every effort has been made to minimise those consequences.

International obligations

The Governing Council of the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) is the key global agency governing environmental protection.


A number of international and regional treaties and conventions relate to the environment and environmental protection, including a number that relate specifically to the control of hazardous substances such as pesticides:

The World Bank provides policies and guidelines on pesticide use and pest management.

SPREP has recently published guidelines to strengthen environmental impact assessment for Pacific Island countries and territories. 

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National regulations

Typically, EIAs/ESIAs for pesticide are required as part of the management process under a country’s HSNO, Conservation, Environmental Protection, Resource Management or Biosecurity Act or equivalent(s) depending where the pesticide is to be used. Often EIA considerations are embedded in multiple forms of legislation.

For example, in New Zealand many Acts require environmental impact assessments even though they might not be called EIAs. The purpose of the Act will dictate whatever the assessment is intended to deal with. However, the following Acts include some sort of EIA process, although the requirements change regularly. Key environmental impact assessments occur under:

  • Biosecurity Act 1993: requires that any proposal for a national or regional pest management strategy must include a statement as to actual or potential effects, beneficial or detrimental, that the implementation of that strategy might have on the environment (s 60(k)(i), s 76(1)(k)(I)
  • HSNO Act 1996: Although not actually called an EIA, applications under the Act, to import or release a new organism (s 34) must be accompanied with information on the possible adverse effects of the activity on the environment. For various applications under the Act, the EPA may make “rapid assessment” of the adverse effects of the activity for the purpose of determining the application (see s 28A, 35)

Other New Zealand legislative instruments include the Resource Management Act 1991, the Conservation Act 1987 [s 17S(3) and s 17U(1)(e)], the Antarctica (Environmental Protection) Act 1994, the Crown Pastoral Land Act 1998, the Fisheries Act 1996. More information can be found at legislation.govt.nz.

In other Pacific nations legislation is more straightforward. For example the use of pesticide simply requires an environment licence/permit under the Kiribati Environment Act, which requires environmental impact assessment. The Pacific Islands Legal Information Institute provides comprehensive information on legislation for Pacific nations.

Information sources

Many thanks to Pene Ferguson, Souad Boudjelas, Liliy Reue and Evan Brenton-Rule for providing links to this information.

SPREP. 2016. Strengthening environmental impact assessment: guidelines for Pacific Island countries and territories. Apia, Samoa

content reviewed by Souad Boudjelas, Pacific Invasives Initiative, November 2016

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