By Lou Sanson, Director-General
It was wonderful to have five Ministers participate in the Government’s announcement to fund $28 million towards the vision of Predator Free New Zealand by 2050.
This is one of the most significant conservation announcements to be made in recent DOC history. Within hours of Monday’s announcement, the news was picked up all major media outlets in New Zealand as well as international publications including the BBC, Al Jazeera, The Guardian, The Financial Times, Shanghai Daily, Time and NPR. By Wednesday, Kevin Hackwell of Forest and Bird had done nine international interviews crediting the Government’s announcement.
Shortly before he passed away in 2012, Sir Paul Callaghan gave a speech where he stated that Predator Free New Zealand could be this country’s ‘moon shot’.
Since then, a number of people and organisations have worked tirelessly towards this dream. They include Rob Fenwick (Chair of PFNZ), Chris Liddell and Devon McLean (NEXT Foundation), Gareth and Sam Morgan (Morgan Foundation) and Stephen Tindall (Tindall Foundation).
Recently we have had the likes of Biological Heritage National Science Challenge (Dr Andrea Byron), Crofton Downs – Predator Free (Kelvin Hastie), The Cacophony Project (Grant Ryan), the Celium platform from Encounter Solutions (Simon Croft), and the team behind Goodnature NZ, all developing new technology and social movements which are helping accelerate this change.
Coupled with outstanding community projects like Reconnecting Northland, Cape to City, Wild For Taranaki and the superb initiatives of NEXT Foundation (established by Neal and Annette Plowman) including Project Janszoon and Project Taranaki Mounga – the movement that has helped create the vision has become a serious player in New Zealand as we see a societal shift to an ‘army of volunteers’ backed by leading-edge science to bring back our birds.
Broadly, the concept is for DOC, Ministry for Primary Industries, OSPRI and Regional Councils to combine our current pest control resources to leverage new funding, connect with commercial and philanthropic funding, and engage community conservation to deliver a much more integrated approach to landscape scale predator management in New Zealand. As always, our relationship with our Treaty partners will be critical to DOC’s contribution to this initiative.
We will be working hard to set up the new Crown Entity over the coming weeks, to provide the leadership needed to optimise investments across New Zealand that move towards the 2050 vision.
I would like to acknowledge our Deputy Director-General (Science and Policy) Bruce Parkes’ leadership in building the business case for Ministers and all the staff who have supported him in getting this initiative announced.