The Predator Free Whangārei group celebrate a big win after securing funding from the government in their mission to make Whangarei Heads possum free.
Northland Regional Council (NRC) on behalf of the community applied for funding from both Predator Free 2050 Ltd and the Provincial Growth Fund to resource the project over the next five years.
"We are delighted to share that the funding application has been successful, and we can now look forward to what is possible with additional funding to bolster and strengthen existing predator control efforts across the district," NRC's biosecurity specialist Ripley Dean said.
Dean said the application was made possible by the hundreds of community volunteers from more than 30 groups that contribute towards predator control in the district by donating thousands of hours of labour.
Over the next five years, the project aims to eradicate possums from the 60,000ha Whangārei Heads peninsula. If successful, the Heads would be the first patch of mainland Northland to be rid of possums.
Ngaire Sullivan, coordinator of Kiwi Coast who are one of the organisations involved in the conservation efforts around Whangārei Heads, said the funding was excellent support for the community's efforts.
"The community managed to push the population of kiwi from 80 to 800 in the past 15 years. They believe there might be more kiwi than possums out there now."
Sullivan said the new funding took their work to the next level as pest eradication around the Heads has become a real possibility as opposed to playing the endless game of keeping possum numbers down.
Most of the community and iwi use traps for pest control. Some landowners also bait with toxins, if found appropriate, Sullivan said.
Though the recent funding is laid out to target possums, many of the community groups would also trap stoats and rats, and conduct weed control in the area.
The Predator Free Whangārei project is part of the wider Predator Free Taitokerau initiative led by NRC which aligns with the nation-wide target to eradicate pests by 2050.
With the new funding, council also hope to build upon existing predator control programmes across the wider Whangārei District and increase their focus on urban predator control.
How much money Predator Free Whangārei received is yet to be officially announced by government.
NRC are holding an open day at McLeod Bay Hall from 10am-3pm on August 2 where the public can meet some of the Predator Free Whangārei team, ask questions and share their ideas.