The backers of an ambitious plan to develop a collaborative predator-free programme in the Bay of Islands have secured $4 million in central government funding to help realise their long-term goal.
The Northland Regional Council secured the funding from Predator Free 2050 Ltd - a company set up by the Government to invest in large landscape-scale projects and breakthrough research - in partnership with Bay of Islands iwi, hapū, landowners, community land care groups, organisations and agencies.
Council chairwoman Penny Smart said Predator Free Bay of Islands is a proposed landscape-scale, community-led predator control and eradication project that would play a key role in a regional vision for a predator-free Tai Tokerau.
"At a local level, it will work alongside existing pest control programmes across the three main peninsulas (13,728 ha) within the Bay of Islands; Purerua Peninsula (about 7600ha), Russell Peninsula (3000ha) and Cape Brett/Rākaumangamanga (3000ha)," Smart said.
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The five-year project has an estimated budget of $15m, including in-kind community contributions, and will also establish sustained predator control with a pathway to eradication, in the 80,000-plus hectares that make up the Bay of Islands.
She said over the coming months the project would work with iwi and hapū, landowners, community groups and agencies to engage with those who keen to be involved.
"This will include developing a collaborative project plan and feasibility investigation, to guide where eradication objectives can be achieved, followed by the development of technical eradication plans and then implementation."
The project ultimately aims to eradicate predators from the three main peninsulas in the Bay of Islands and significantly reduce the impact of possums, mustelids and rats throughout the wider landscape.
In addition to the $4m from Predator Free 2050 Limited, the project has been made possible by significant in-kind contributions from community conservation groups, iwi/hapū, Northland Regional Council, Far North District Council, Kiwi Coast and the Department of Conservation.
Predator Free BOI was chosen from expressions of interest in funding from provincial areas nationwide.
For more information about Predator Free 2050 Ltd and funded projects, go to www.pf2050.co.nz