Predator Free 2050 – one year on

Department of Conservation —  25/07/2017

It was one year ago today that the goal of a predator-free New Zealand by 2050 was announced. Community and public support to date has been overwhelming. The unity between community groups, businesses, individuals, and wider public has given New Zealand a solid foundation to continue to build large scale predator-free projects, grow community initiatives and make advancements in science and technology.

To celebrate, we’re reflecting on a few highlights of the past year and the progress we’ve made so far.

Predator Free 2050

The Government’s target of a predator free New Zealand was announced one year ago by then Prime Minister John Key. It is an ambitious goal to rid New Zealand of possums, rats and stoats by the year 2050.

These introduced predators kill around 25 million native birds every year. Wiping out these predators will allow our birds and other native species to thrive.

Ship rat attacks fantail nest. Photo: Nga Manu images

The Predator Free 2050 goal combines the resources of government agencies like DOC and the Ministry for Primary Industries to work in partnership with local communities.

A new company, Predator Free 2050 Ltd, has also been established to play a key part in achieving the Predator Free 2050 vision. Their role is to direct investment into regionally significant predator eradication projects and breakthrough science solutions.

Top row, L-R: Gary Lane, Sir Rob Fenwick, David MacLeod, Arihia Bennett, Jeff Grant, Devon McLean Bottom row, L-R: Traci Houpapa, Jane Taylor (Chair), Hon Maggie Barry, Warren Parker

Threatened Species Strategy

Draft Threatened Species StrategyThe draft Threatened Species Strategy was launched on 10 May – a call to action for the nation to get behind efforts to protect our precious native plants and animals. Predator Free 2050 is the springboard for protecting our native species and will play an integral role in implementing the strategy.

Predator Free Rangers

DOC has appointed a group of nine Predator Free Rangers. Their job is to help communities scale up their predator-free efforts, commit people to the cause and coordinate together. They will help plan trapping strategies, set up trap libraries and ensure we get the most out of everyone’s time and effort. Predator Free Rangers will be the community’s point of contact, expertise and know-how in DOC.

Communities

Support around the country since the Predator Free 2050 announcement has been overwhelming.

Last year Predator Free Wellington was launched with the goal of becoming the world’s first predator-free capital city. Earlier this year, Dunedin got on board with a Memorandum of Understanding between 19 organisations including community conservation groups, iwi, DOC and councils. Auckland Council recently announced the goal of a Pest Free Auckland.

Businesses are also playing their part. Kiwibank is supporting communities to take on the predator-free challenge. Their initiative has seen selected communities receive subsidised trapping equipment and support to establish community backyard trapping programmes.

The NEXT Foundation has also encouraged and supported communities to become predator-free by appointing Kelvin Hastie as the NEXT Predator Free Community Champion.

You can find your local predator-free group on the Predator Free Trust website.

Projects

Together with local government, iwi, philanthropists, and community groups we are tackling large-scale predator-free projects around New Zealand. Some of these projects include:

Project Janszoon – controlling pests in Abel Tasman National Park and supporting the reintroduction of key native species.

Cape to City – restoring native species across 26,000 ha of farmland from Havelock North to Cape Kidnappers.

Taranaki Mounga – working towards the goal of making Egmont National Park predator free and safe for native birds.

There are some great examples of what’s possible when people join forces to work towards a goal not achievable by any individual alone.

Taranaki Mounga releasing New Zealand robins/toutouwai.

Taranaki Mounga releasing New Zealand robins/toutouwai

Science and Technology

Not all the technology to make New Zealand predator free yet exists. Scientific breakthroughs will play an important role in achieving the predator-free goal. This year the Government has already invested $1.24 million into three multi-year projects to improve our predator control tools.

There are also number of organisations working on making predator control technologies safer, more cost effective and efficient. These include:

The Cacophony Project – turning birdsong into data and using the best IT technologies to dramatically improve our trapping ability.

Zero Invasive Predators (ZIP) – an environmental initiative that focuses on using innovative methods of predator control to sustain New Zealand’s native bird life.

A satellite transmitter on ZIP’s modified DOC 200 trap

You can help

We’ve got a long way to go, but we’ve made a start.

We need your help to make the goal of a predator-free New Zealand a reality. Find out more about the Predator Free 2050 goal and how you can get involved on the DOC website.

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