• Lou Sanson is Director General of the Department of Conservation
In 1986, New Zealand pioneered the first offshore island rat eradication at Breaksea Island in Fiordland. Since then, New Zealand has become a world leader in island pest eradication.
Predator Free 2050 brings this extremely ambitious goal to the mainland. We are determined to tap into the hearts and minds of communities wanting to be involved, community partners and philanthropists who stand behind this vision.
To achieve this goal in 34 years we need to rethink traditional approaches around pest management. The success we've had to date with innovation in predator control in this country, along with the potential from new technologies and greater philanthropic and community involvement, has convinced many people that achieving this goal is possible. The story has spread around the world and curious media are beating a path to our door to find out more.
Expertise for predator-free has come from inspirational pioneers like Brian Bell who recently died. Brian made a massive contribution to endangered species management and island ecological restoration techniques. The same drive and energy is apparent in current projects that are clearing peninsulas of pests and defending them from reinvasion with new tools and current tools reconfigured. This is world-leading technology.
Breakthroughs like self-resetting goodnature traps, the Cacophony Project and electronic remote trap-monitoring devices are making eradications smarter and more cost-effective.
Just as important in the current context is the huge groundswell of community conservation efforts that are getting rid of rats, stoats and possums in suburbs, on private land and across the country.
The real success stories are ones like Project Janszoon in Tasman, and Project Mounga in Taranaki with input from the Next Foundation. There are others too like "Reconnecting Northland" which also show how integrating iwi, Government, local government and community aspirations can lead to a much greater vision of conservation for everyone.
We are determined to tap into the hearts and minds of communities wanting to be involved.
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In the Hawke's Bay, the Cape to City project clearly shows how to reduce predators to very low numbers over 25,000ha of rural and peri-urban land.
The $28 million committed by the Government over the next four years (or a total of $238m at $7m a year by 2050) is to supercharge the involvement of entrepreneurs and philanthropists.
For every $2 raised from these sources, $1 of new Government money will go to support large-scale projects, breakthrough scientific research and increase community-led projects. This will complement the concentrated efforts of integrated pest management that the Department of Conservation, the Ministry for Primary Industries, regional councils, Nga Whenua Rahui and the QEII Trust are pursuing to get rid of predators to improve biodiversity and primary industries.
Annual spending to date on predator control is about $70m. The Government's additional $7m a year, plus the expected $10m leveraged off that from others investing in control and eradication, will bring the annual spend to around $87m and about $3 billion over the next 34 years.
With new ways to make New Zealand predator-free yet to be developed, we'll continue to focus on halting decline by controlling pests and translocating and reintroducing threatened species. Better linking of these efforts will improve pest suppression and eventually, with the right technology, pest eradications can begin.
Achieving the goal will deliver huge benefits across New Zealand - for the social and cultural links with our environment, for our regional economies through primary industries and tourism, and for our threatened native species.
With these efforts and all working together, a predator-free New Zealand for our grandchildren will be our legacy.