An update on conservation efforts in NZ
As a country that’s known for its incredible sightseeing, birding and forestland, New Zealand is constantly working to improve conservation for the survival of our native plants and animals.
One of the many current projects in motion is the Department of Conservation’s ‘Battle for our Birds’.
The programme sets out to control the numbers of predators such as rodents and stoats, whose numbers have recently been on the incline due to high levels of seed production in New Zealand’s beech forests – an occurrence that happens just once every 15 years.
The problem is that once the predators eat all the seeds, they prey on birds such as kea, whio, kaka, and even the precious kiwi.
In late April, DOC released a statement on the progress of the project from the last eight months, and it seems to be making huge improvements to the predator problem.
Focusing on South Island beech forests, DOC used aerial 1080 to treat more than 600,000 hectares of conservation areas.
As a result, there was a significant increase in nesting success for birds such as the rock wren, mohua, rifleman and robin in these areas compared with untreated areas. The rock wren nesting success rate was 85 per cent, which is a massive improvement against the standard 30 per cent in uncontrolled spots.
The use of 1080 can be a contentious issue in New Zealand, but as DOC Deputy Director-General Conservation Services Mike Slater points out, it’s likely that not using it and allowing predators to roam free would be more damaging than using it and risking a handful of the birds and animals they are working to save.
Operations are set to continue throughout 2015, with plans for coverage of approximately 250,000 hectares in total.
Tristan Cullen - Passionate Conservationist