Predator-free New Zealand next step in conservation programme

Column Articles
Thursday, August 4, 2016

New Zealand’s native birds and plants are a treasured part of our nation’s identity. We use symbols of the kiwi and the silver fern to represent our country, and our native species are a huge source of national pride.

However, many of our most threatened native animals come under constant attack from introduced predators such as rats, stoats and possums. These animals kill around 25 million native birds a year and are the most significant cause of New Zealand’s decline of threatened species.

Predators also wreak havoc for our agricultural sector by spreading disease, and destroying pasture, crops and forestry. They are also responsible for a widespread loss of biodiversity.

The Government recently revealed its plan to tackle these rampant rodents by announcing an ambitious goal of ridding New Zealand of all predators by 2050.

This is a ground-breaking initiative; never before has the world seen such an ambitious conservation target.

Predators have been roaming New Zealand’s forests and destroying our natural environment for decades. The Government’s predator-free plan is a comprehensive, long term approach to the problem and relies on the support of communities and organisations throughout the country.

A new company will be launched, which will match Government resources with local government, community groups, iwi and philanthropists to develop predator eradication programmes.

Not only will the initiative help restore our native birds and boost our agricultural industry, it’s also set to improve the health of our forests and reinforce New Zealand’s trade and tourism brand.

The target builds on the work already being done to protect our native species. Pest control is at an all-time high, and earlier this year we committed over $20 million to New Zealand’s biggest ever pest control operation, Battle for our Birds.

Achieving a predator free New Zealand is the next step in our conservation journey. The project will require a massive effort from our communities, but the end result will be worth it.