A "game changer" investment in pest eradication was announced at Zealandia in Wellington yesterday, where the Government revealed a push for the country to be predator free by 2050.
Following the announcement, Dr Andrea Byrom, director of the National Science Challenge for NZ's Biological Heritage, cited the Bay's Cape to City project as an example of how to best use the latest pest eradication technology.
"A game-changer is just what our biodiversity desperately needs," Ms Byrom said. "Over the last few years we have seen the public and private sector, individuals and communities, councils, scientists, businesspeople, schoolchildren, and thousands of committed New Zealanders coming together in a manner that is usually only seen when there is a universal threat such as war.
In fact, this situation is very analogous. There is a universal threat to our native plants and animals - and therefore to our economy and national identity - from overwhelming numbers of possums, rats, stoats, and other invaders."
Conservation Minister Maggie Barry also said Project Taranaki Mounga and Cape to City in Hawke's Bay were "great examples of what's possible when people join forces to work towards a goal not achievable by any individual alone."
Ms Byrom said new technologies such as wireless trap sensors that tell when a trap needs clearing, and traps that can kill several animals without needing to be reset, "can make a huge difference".
She said scientists in New Zealand were not just relying on the "here and now" technology. The Biological Heritage Science Challenge, hosted by Landcare Research, and with expertise from 17 Challenge Partners, including all eight universities and seven Crown research institutes, had exciting opportunities for investment in pest control research.
"Scientists aligned with the Challenge are investigating other, over-the horizon technologies: genetic interventions, species-specific toxins, and super-effective trap lures, in the race to beat our national problem.
The $28 million of new money announced today includes funding for research, and provides a much needed boost than can sit alongside our existing investment," says Ms Byrom.
"The challenge is also driving the concept of transformative, large-scale eradication of pests throughout New Zealand, an ambition shared by many visionary leaders in business, science and national and local government. Together with Landcare Research we are strongly supporting the Cape to City project in Napier, the first experiment in upscaling pest eradication across thousands of hectares of production and urban landscapes."