Whangārei Heads could become the first part of Northland to be predator free thanks to a $6 million Government injection, a kiwi protection advocate says.
Efforts to make Whangārei Heads predator free to protect the area's threatened wildlife have moved a stop closer with $6 million of government funding.
Community efforts to create a Predator Free Whangārei will receive a $6 million boost, Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones and Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage announced in Whangārei yesterday.
The new funding, through government company Predator Free 2050 Ltd, will create around 12 jobs while enabling the complete removal of possums over the next five years from a nearly 10,000ha area around Whangārei Heads. Possums, mustelids and rats will also be targeted across 60,000ha from urban Whangārei to the Whangārei Heads.
Kiwi Coast co-ordinator Ngaire Sullivan said Predator Free Whangārei provides an amazing opportunity to secure the first area of Northland where native forests, wildlife and special places can thrive once more in the absence of the constant and devastating effects of predators.
"Community-led projects across Whangārei are already achieving amazing results. Kiwi populations are increasing and forests are being brought back from the brink thanks to their endless hard work and dedication over the last two decades,'' Sullivan said.
''Stoats predate 95 per cent of kiwi chicks before their first birthday in unmanaged areas. Imagine what 60,000ha of boosted predator control is going to mean for taonga species like kiwi? We're looking forward to getting stuck in to help make the most of this opportunity, embrace new ways of working and share lessons learnt across Taitokerau."
Whangārei District Council is a project partner and mayor Sheryl Mai is looking forward to the positive impact Predator Free Whangārei will have on biodiversity in the reserves in our district.
"This will boost the efforts of the many conservation volunteers who have worked tirelessly over many years. We have so many stunning green spaces across our district that provide a real drawcard for both residents and visitors, and it will be wonderful to experience the ongoing transformation as we see our natural environment truly thriving."
Jones said the project would build capacity for biosecurity work in the region and help boost economic activity in the area.
"This is a bold project backing iwi and hapū, landowners and community groups to act as kaitiaki and achieve their vision of a Predator Free Whangārei,'' he said.
"I acknowledge the leadership of the Northland Regional Council in bringing these groups together in efforts to protect and restore our taiao."
The project's funding comes from a $19.5m Provincial Growth Fund investment in Predator Free 2050 Ltd. In addition, the project will receive significant in-kind contributions from community conservation groups, Northland Regional Council, WDC, Kiwi Coast and the Department of Conservation. The five-year project has a total budget of just over $27m.
Sage said the project would create a safe habitat for kiwi and other native plants and wildlife to thrive.
"This Predator Free project builds on over 20 years of dedicated and successful community effort in predator control in the Whangārei area. The kiwi population on the Whangārei Peninsula has increased ten-fold to almost 1000 birds over the last 20 years through this community commitment.''