Govt musters resources for campaign to rid NZ of predators by 2050

The Government has announced plans to set up a new public-private partnership company by the beginning of 2017 to help fund regional large-scale predator eradication programmes.

Its aim is to achieving the goal of a Predator Free New Zealand by 2050.

This will require a massive team effort across the public, private, iwi and community sectors, Conservation Minister Maggie Barry says.

The Predator Free 2050 Project will combine the resources of lead government agencies the Department of Conservation and the Ministry for Primary Industries to work in partnership with local communities.

Under the strategy a new government company, Predator Free New Zealand Limited, will sponsor community partnerships and pest eradication efforts around the country.

Not all the technology to make New Zealand predator free yet exists, and the Biological Heritage National Science Challenge will have an important role in developing the science to achieve the predator free goal.

“By bringing together central and local government, iwi, philanthropists, and community groups, we know that we can tackle large-scale predator free projects in regions around New Zealand,” Ms Barry says.

“Project Taranaki Mounga and Cape to City in Hawke’s Bay are great examples of what’s possible when people join forces to work towards a goal not achievable by any individual alone.”

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy says the goal of a Predator Free New Zealand by 2050 will have major positive impacts for farmers and the wider primary sector.

“Possums and ferrets are the main carriers of bovine TB, which is a very destructive disease for cattle and deer. In this year’s Budget the Government committed $100 million towards combined eradication efforts with industry starting with cattle and deer by 2026,” Mr Guy says.

“By pooling our resources and working together we can jointly achieve our goals of both eradicating bovine TB, and achieving a predator free New Zealand.”

Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce says the Biological Heritage Challenge has an established network of scientists who are ready and willing to take on the Predator Free Challenge.

“For the first time technology is starting to make feasible what previously seemed like an unattainable dream.”

Predator Free New Zealand Limited will have a board of directors made up of government, private sector, and scientific players. The board’s job will be to work on each regional project with iwi and community conservation groups and attract $2 of private sector and local government funding for every $1 of government funding.

Four goals for 2025 have been set for the project:

  • An additional 1 million hectares of land where pests have been supressed or removed through Predator Free New Zealand partnerships;
  • Development of a scientific breakthrough capable of removing at least one small mammalian predator from New Zealand entirely;
  • Demonstrate areas of more than 20,000 hectares can be predator free without the use of fences;
  • Complete removal of all introduced predators from offshore island nature reserves

Ms Barry says these are ambitious targets in themselves, “but ones that we are capable of reaching if we work together”.

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